Colonial New Zealand Wars Māori and militia

I’ve been making some slow but steady progress on my colonial New Zealand Wars project, having painted eight more Māori warriors and eight militiamen over the last couple of weeks.  

They’re all from the wonderful Empress Miniatures range of 28mm figures for the New Zealand Wars (or the Māori Wars, as some call them) of the 1840s.


Firstly, here are the eight warriors.  Half of them are armed with muskets, whilst the others have the double-barreled shotguns that were very popular with Māori warriors in this period.  They called the shotguns ‘tupara’ (based on the Māori pronunciation of the English words  ‘two-barrel’).

I don’t try to paint the intricate tattoos with which Māori warriors customarily adorned their faces and other parts of their bodies. I did try once, but the results looked too clunky and crude. So I think it is better to ignore them, as the skin is quite dark anyway.

The background is a mixture of trees and ferns from a range of sources, as well as a couple of sections of scratch-built palisade.


Empress have had a pack of militia figures for some time, but recently added another pack with a mixture of civilian hats.  This gives a suitable ragged look, I feel.  I’ve painted them in a mixture of grey and blue shirts, but all with the red-striped trousers they obtained from British army stores.

I plan to base all these figures on sabot bases, similarly to how my friend Brian Smaller is basing his Zulu wars figures.  I’m currently getting some pricing on such bases from the same New Zealand company he uses, Dopey Dog.


Finally, as a little sideline project, here is an unfinished progress shot on a couple of “ladies’ I’m working on.  These were an unexpected gift from my good friend Scott Bowman, who had a spare pack, and obviously felt my troops needed some female company!

An intriguing painting project, to say the least.  I still haven’t decided what colour to do the older madam’s dress and hair.  But her … ahem … assets have come out quite well.

17 thoughts on “Colonial New Zealand Wars Māori and militia

      1. It is indeed Roly, I had plotted out the basics of using Marin Baker at one time until all my cash went to the solicitor and Divorce 🙂 these are lovely figures though. I am pinching off you all the way 🙂 working on pegasus buildings right now.

        I had the Old glory range but they just didnt float my boat, so sold them off. I hope that Empress will do later Maori in mixed clothing and either they or Perry do rangers etc as that would move the period into the 1860s

  1. Very nice! And highlights one of the curious points about the wars – the British ridiculed Maori for the relatively sparse gear they wore. The Maori ridiculed the British for uniforms that swiftly got tattered and for weighing themselves down to the point where it was hard to move. Of course, Maori had figured out precisely what was required for bush warfare, particularly, and the British eventually followed suit with the ‘kilted look’.

    1. True. So it is a shame that Empress Miniatures don’t intend to make miniatures for the later period of the NZ Was, which would have included those unique colonial troops in the ‘shawl order’.

      1. Definitely a pity. I’m thinking particularly of that photo series at Ohinemutu in 1870 with the militia lined up, in their kilts, ready for bush action. It would be quite neat to have miniatures of them to go with the 1860s-era gear – a progression through time of the different uniforms and garbs that were used across wars that went on over a generation. Maybe one day…

  2. Beautiful miniatures as always! By now you really must have an impressive collection of NZ Wars settlers, soldiers, sailors, warriors and chiefs! Also love the palisades – and envy the skills you have to build such models from scratch.

    Those ladies look like they’ve strolled straight out of one of Sharpe’s adventures…

  3. This is an absolutely wonderful project. I’m so glad that you’ve put so much thought into the little details- to the very detailing on their pants! There is nothing better than historical accuracy, after all!

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