New Zealand was founded as a nation by the Treaty of Waitangi, which was signed by the British crown and about 540 Maori rangatira (chiefs). The treaty was designed to ensure the Maori chiefs preserved their rangatiratanga (chieftainship or authority) under British sovereignty. Crucially both sides believed this meant different things, a difference in expectations that would lead to war, within just five years of its signing.
The New Zealand Wars
The New Zealand Wars pitched the might of the British Empire and a number of Maori tribes that remained loyal to the crown against the majority of the Maori people. Through the use of ingenious tactics and innovative fortifications the Maori side was able to withstand the attacks for many years before eventually succumbing to the British side's main unmatchable advantage, its vast numerical advantage.