Fire in the fern – blue-coated British of the colonial New Zealand Wars


I’ve finally completed painting my first couple of units of infantry from Perry Miniatures’ conjectural British Intervention Force range.  My British infantry, however, are anything but conjectural, as I’ve painted them to represent the soldiers who fought in the colonial New Zealand Wars during the 1860s/70s.  In this theatre, instead of the tradition red coat, the British soldier wore a blue ‘smock’ or ‘jumper’, which was a loose-fitting jacket with a single breast pocket.


A firing line of British infantry on the edge of the bush.   Most of the infantry are armed with three-band Enfields, but there are two sergeants who have the shorter two-banded weapons, which is accurate.


I also like the way many of the men have been sculpted with greatcoats tied by the sleeves around their shoulders – again, accurate.    That’s nice attention to detail from Perry Miniatures.


The grenadier company (distinguished by the white touries on their caps) launches a charge.  Note how no two figures are sculpted the same – the Perry twins have imbued each soldier with a personality of its own.


The officer is wearing a patrol jacket with ornate black braiding.  I picked out the black with grey, otherwise it wouldn’t have stood out at all.  Though in this close-up I can now see that maybe I need to tidy up those sleeve ornaments a little more.


The hats should actually have little brass numbers on the front, representing the regiment, eg 12 or 65.  However, with the numerals being only about a millimetre high in this scale, I’m not game to try painting these!


I’m very pleased with how these figures came out.  I hope Perry Miniatures extend this range, and that they continue to  include figures usable for the New Zealand Wars.  For example, while they have recently announced several Armstrong breech-loader artillery pieces, so far it looks like I can’t use them because the crews are all modelled in their dress uniforms rather than the smocks/jumpers worn in New Zealand (hint, hint, Alan and Michael!).

And of course it would be great to eventually have colonial troops as well, like the Forest Rangers and the Armed Constabulary. Who knows, one day …



13 thoughts on “Fire in the fern – blue-coated British of the colonial New Zealand Wars

  1. Roly, these are beautiful and evil at the same time. Evil beapcause I am serious danger of being distracted away from my Crimean and WWI projects to build up some NZ Wars units!

    1. Oh, I think you should be distracted, I really do. After all, a true-blue NZer should be replicating what occurred on his doorstep, not on some far foreign field 😉

  2. Excellent models! Yes, the ‘kilted look’ they adopted later in the wars would be interesting. In a historical sense it’s intriguing how the regiments arrived here with all due nattiness in their look and that this swiftly dwindled as they got used to the realities of fighting in our temperate, pre-Opossum jungles.

    1. True … though I do sometimes wonder at the lack of such uniform variations in other theatres at about the same time. I don’t think of NZ as rough terrain compared to some other countries being fought in during the colonial period … Afghanisatan, India, the Sudan, Burma, Africa etc

  3. What would their music have been do you think? Have imagined them singing “Garryowen” on the march. Several would have had tin whistles in their pockets.

    1. I’m sure they would’ve had music, and probably quite similar tunes to those being played about the same time in the American Civil War.

      Encyclpedia of NZ: “The northern war of 1845 brought the British 58th Regiment’s band to New Zealand. After the war they were based in Auckland. From 1847 the 65th Regiment’s band was based in Wellington. Both bands played free concerts and provided the music for events such as horticultural shows and balls. This was good publicity for the army, countering the bad reputation attached to off-duty soldiers. Eleven British regimental bands were present during the New Zealand wars of the 1860s.”

      And just a few years later, here’s a wonderful pic of a NZ Armed Constabulary band:

  4. The chap in the white trousers looks like my ex Irish Constabulary Great Granda !! He was at Waihi (Taranaki) and had a lovely singing voice. He would never let his children or grandchildren play with guns, and we never did either. He worked as a clerk in Gov.Grey’s office in Auckland, shared an office with Von Tempsky and ran messages to Maori chiefs around the Island. Got “detained” by Te Kooti and picked up more fleas than he was comfortable with – those were the days of high adventure. Some of those armed constabulary chaps were really interesting characters.

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