I have just obtained some backgound information from the wargamer who commissioned the recently-announced new Maori Wars range from Empress Miniatures. Here is what he has to say:
The project is 1st New Zealand War in general. There are actually quite a number of encounters that can replayed as scenarios: Kororareka, Boulcott’s Farm, the small bush skirmishes of the Wellington and Whanganui campaign, the large skirmish in St. John’s Wood. I think that you can even break down the pa battles of the Flagstaff War into smaller playable actions or even mini campaigns (capturing a hill to set up a gun battery, sortie of the garrison against that gun battery, etc).
The range will concentrate on the 1840s. The tales of Hone Heke and Tamati Waka Nene have captured my imagination much more than the more bitter fightings of the 1860s.
I have even thought about an alternative historical setting. I have read that the British started their efforts to make New Zealand a colony only after they discovered increasing French missionary activities (usually the first stage of the European pattern of colonization). So the alternative development would be that the French start a colony of their own in New Zealand. The result is southern hemisphere French and Indian War. It is a low-level war since British troops are occupied in other parts of the empire and the French can only sneak small amounts of troops past the superior RN. So British and French rely on Maori allies. The Maori tribes ally with either side to weaken the Europeans and to gain the upper hand in intertribal conflicts. I think that this setting is appealing for players who are more accustomed to European style armies. Suitable figures for the French can be found in the Perry’s Carlist War range (French Foreign Legion, Spanish with Isabelino caps).
I do not know how Empress will develop the range beyond my initial funding. It depends on the commercial success of the range, I suppose. Maori Wars is still a niche conflict in wargaming (I cannot understand that … but I guess I am biased :o). But there will definitely be a naval rocket team for some spectacular but ineffective fireworks.
Well, I’ll be contributing towards any commercial success, that’s for sure!