In the two decades before the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand was ripped asunder by island-spanning waves of warfare, extreme violence and cannibalism. Great war parties surged the length of the land to avenge historic grievances, killing and burning as they went. Whole peoples were uprooted and found new homes.
Despite the name given them by history, one thing we can be certain about is that these dramatic conflicts were not simply 'musket' wars. This was an age of courage, of heroism, of great character and of astonishing deeds. And they are not dead history. Twenty-first-century New Zealand has been profoundly shaped by them, not least in the location of most of the major cities.
In Guns and Utu, popular historian Matthew Wright disputes the many mythologies of these wars, examining some of the whys and wherefores of this generation-long culture collision.