Wednesday, 4 September 2013

September Meeting: Cameron, Grey, and the Invasion of the Waikato, by Dr Peter Vickers

Peter Vickers, who recently completed a Bachelor of Defence Studies at Massey University, gave a very interesting talk on “Cameron, Grey, and the Invasion of the Waikato” on Sunday 1st September.

The two key figures in the Waikato campaign were the Governor, Sir George Grey, and General Cameron.

Governor Grey
Grey had had  a series of failures in his previous appointments yet he was sent for a second time  to New Zealand as Governor. Peter described him as a “yes” man and a “hit man” for the British Government, who wanted to withdraw their troops as soon as possible to save money.

General Cameron
Cameron, on the other hand, had had a distinguished career in the army before his appointment in 1861 as commander in New Zealand. It is said that he had discovered a plot by the Waikato Kingites who were planning to attack Auckland. He began the subjugation of the Waikato in 1863 by ordering troops to cross the Mangatawhiri River.

Prior to that the Great South Road had been built to reach the seat of war and great use was made of armoured steamers on the river.  The Maori were to be punished by the loss of their land.

Peter explained that there were different interpretations of what happened in the Waikato campaign. He believed that Belich gave a revisionist view of the wars and would question some of his claims.e.g. that the Maori were the first to develop a deep, complex system of trenches.

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