The Waikato invasion 1863-1864: A counterinsurgency approach
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15350
Counter-insurgency as a strategy has only been explicitly espoused in American and British military tactical manuals in recent decades. It is anachronistic to military terminology before the last half century, but as this thesis illustrates counter-insurgency can be seen in embryonic form in the conflicts of the 1860s between Indigenous Māori and invading British forces in Aotearoa New Zealand. This thesis examines how early counter-insurgency strategy was evident in the tactical and strategic approaches used by Crown forces during the invasion of the Waikato in 1863-64. It asks: what evidence of counter-insurgency strategy can be seen in both British and Māori tactics at the time, and were they planned and intentional? Using two recent counter-insurgency tactical manuals - one American and the other British - this study compares present-day counter-insurgency principles, philosophies, and approaches to examples of Māori and British strategies during the 1860’s wars in Waikato, New Zealand. It illustrates how the Crown’s “suppression of rebellion” served as the contemporary political wording for its counter-insurgency campaign, which effectively repositioned Indigenous peoples as insurgents and “rebels” in their own territories and legitimated British colonial authority. Thus, this study argues that counter-insurgency in British military history arose from the various colonial invasions and occupations it undertook over several centuries. In Aotearoa, as this thesis argues, counter-insurgency tactics were used to establish legitimacy through civil-military operations such as land seizure, public proclamations and reports that vilified Māori and asserted British governing authority. The history of counter-insurgency as it is understood in British and American military thinking today, then, as this study contends is deeply connected to, and informed by, powerful colonial discourses, strategies, and experiences similar to those explored in this study of the Waikato invasion.
The University of Waikato
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- Masters Degree Theses