The third epic chapter in RNZ’s award-winning series – NZ WARS: STORIES OF TAINUI – screens on Māori Television on Wednesday 17 March 2021 at 8.30 PM.

Great Southern Television and Aotearoa Media Collective have teamed up with RNZ to create a digital documentary project that vividly illustrates how the battles looked, sounded and felt. 

The 1863 invasion of the Waikato was a defining conflict in New Zealand history, reinforcing the Crown’s power, giving rise to land confiscations and entrenching one of the country’s oldest political institutions – the Kiingitanga movement.

The hour-long programme is presented by Mihingaarangi Forbes and features historian Dr Vincent O’Malley alongside esteemed iwi historians Rahui Papa, Brad Totorewa, Tom Roa, Mamae Takerei and Kawhia Muraahi.

Speaking in the documentary, O’Malley says: “The invasion of Waikato was a predetermined war of conquest, an invasion on the Crown's part – that's absolutely clear.

”Governor Grey attempted to justify the unjustifiable really through assembling a dodgy dossier of evidence that supposedly incriminated Tainui but, in fact, did no such thing.”

Forbes says the bicultural retelling of the biggest and most important campaign of the 19th century New Zealand Wars centres on three key encounters: Rangiriri, Rangiaaowhia and Ooraakau.

“The Waikato wars – or as Waikato historian Mamae Takerei describes it, ‘the war on the people of Waikato’ – changed the relationship between Pākehā and Māori forever.”

Written and directed by Cameron Bennett, the documentary features heartbreaking stories from the descendants as well as dramatic re-enactments, interviews, historical records, haka and digital storytelling.

Forbes says audiences have changed over the past two decades.

“My belief is that New Zealanders are generally open to a bicultural narrative of how our nation was formed and will listen with both their ears and their hearts.

“The storytellers of Tainui have generously entrusted us with their stories in this documentary, many of which have not been told to a wider audience until today.”

Extended interviews with key talent are also featured on the RNZ website.

NZ WARS: STORIES OF TAINUI screens on Māori Television on Wednesday 17 March 2021 at 8.30 PM.


Kirk MacGibbon

Mātanga Tuku Kōrero / Communications Specialist

Māori Television

DDI: 09 539 7159

MOB: 021 20 33 777