A Zulu War game and a South African feast

Searching through a bric-a-brac stall at the local market the other day, I found a couple of tattered old photos of soldiers and warriors in combat.

Looking more closely, these pictures seem to have been taken during an action of the Zulu War of 1879.

Well, actually, that’s all a lie! These are actually photos taken during a wargame a group of us here in Kāpiti, New Zealand, played last night.

Our game pitched Zulus against British, in a test run of Dan Mersey’s colonial skirmish wargaming rules The Men Who Would Be Kings.

Mine host was Herman van Kradenburg, whose collection includes a whole cupboard of figures depicting the wars of his former homeland, South Africa (like the rest of the pictures in this article, click on the photo for a closer look).

Our initial intention was to play the scenario where the British are trying to get a wagon train across the board. However, our memories had obviously failed us, as there is no such scenario in TMWWBK! So we changed to playing a simple meeting engagement, but left the wagons in place anyway. This was just a fun game after all.

The mass of figures that Herman produced from his magic cupboard looked absolutely spectacular on the table.

During the game Herman regaled us with his knowledge of the history of the Zulu War.

Particularly interesting was what he told us about and the different types of warriors and how they used their weapons.

The British also looked splendid in their scarlet coats and white tropical helmets.

The British weren’t all regular infantry, but also included these irregular allies wearing part African, part European clothing.

Right through the game this giraffe was quietly chewing on the leaves of an acacia tree, totally ignoring the tumult of human combat taking place around him.

Here are four of the happy wargamers – Scott Bowman (owner of probably the only pharmacy in the world that has a well-stocked wargaming department!), mine host Herman, fellow South African Rudolf Pretorius, and Ste Haran (like Scott, a British ex-pat).

The fifth happy wargamer was of course yours truly, seen here poring over the TMWWBK rules, whilst Scott considers his next move. [photo by Herman van Kradenburg]

Adding to the African flavour of the night, Herman cooked us a delicious pre-game meal of South African delicacies, including boerewors (sausage), chakalaka (spiced vegetables), samp (maize) and beans, pickled curried fish, bhajia (chilli bites), green fig preserves and home-made bread.

Our pre-game meal was so delicious, and the atmosphere so companionable, that our game started late and we didn’t have time to play to a full conclusion. But, hey, it isn’t about winning or losing – especially with such a wonderful night of feasting, fine figures, friends and fun!

My latest article in Wargames Illustrated

I’ve been lucky enough to have another article published in ‘Wargames Illustrated’. I submitted a piece for their ‘Quick Fire’ series, and was chuffed to see it appear in Issue 397 (January 2021).

In the short article I describe how when photographing miniatures, there’s a real thrill when every now and then one of the pictures unexpectedly stands out from the rest.

The article is accompanied by some examples of what I call my ‘serendipitous photographs’ – pictures that I think came out particularly well, despite no extra effort on my part.

The limitations of a hard-copy magazine mean the published pictures are quite small. So, for anyone who may be interested, here they are full-size (click on the pics to expand).

I liked the way that the trees in my garden accidently came out looking like a castle on a hill overshadowing this unit of Landsknechts. (Warlord Games)

There’s more info on this unit in my old posting: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2020/06/02/lockdown-landsknechts/

This is probably my favourite photo – a recreation of Philippoteaux’s famous painting of the Battle of Fontenoy. (Crann Tara and Minden Miniatures)

There’s more info on the original painting and my diorama version in this posting on my blog: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2020/01/31/at-last-my-favourite-painting-in-miniature/

British and French third-rate ships-of-the-line battle it out, as a Spanish brig circles warily. This photo was taken with a simple hand-painted sky background, and sitting on the paper sea that comes with the Warlord ‘Black Seas’ starter set. (Warlord Games)

You can find out more about these models in this old posting: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/black-seas-fleets-finished/

A battalion of French light infantry marches forward in the moonlight. (Front Rank)

This is a really old picture. I recall I added in the ‘moon’ using a graphics programme, as the lighting of this photo came out by chance looking just like moonlight (well, I thought so anyway!).

There’s more info on this unit in this old posting: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/tartanish-and-thunderbirdish-napoleonics/

Māori warriors from the colonial New Zealand Wars perform a fierce haka (war-dance) in the face of the enemy. (Empress Miniatures)

There’s more info on this unit here: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/photos-of-finished-colonial-new-zealand-wars-figures-and-terrain/

A pre-war colonial French column of Panhard armoured cars arrives in an oasis village. (Mad Bob Miniatures)

Below is the same picture, but with some special effects to make it into an old-fashioned snapshot. 

You can read more about these models here: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2020/02/15/motorised-foreign-legion-security-patrol-in-1930s-morocco/

Does historical wargaming trivialise or teach?

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Wargaming as a way of learning? Especially for a series of wars that continue to have repercussions in my country to this very day? Doesn’t playing the New Zealand Wars as a game trivialise the on-going impact of colonialism on generations of descendants?

My own story says otherwise.

But firstly, why am I even mentioning this? Well, there’s increasing pressure on the New Zealand government to make the study of our colonial wars compulsory in the national education curriculum. I totally support this idea. Just like a person, a country should know its own history, especially where parts of that story still adversely affect the lives of many of its citizens.

So how does wargaming fit into all this?

As a youngster, for me ‘real’ history didn’t take place in New Zealand. Rather, it was the stirring battles and sieges that took place hundreds of years ago and far, far away in the fields, towns and castles of Europe, or in the forests and grasslands of America.

For many years my hobby was built around the history of other countries’ wars – the Seven Years War, the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War. I read a lot of history of these conflicts, what caused them, what impact they had.  But I totally ignored the wars much closer to home. 

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But I wasn’t entirely ignorant of my country’s history.  I vaguely remember doing a project in primary school about the early 19th century whalers and sealers. Then in secondary school I learned all about our political figures of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. And of course every New Zealand kid learns about the ANZACs at Gallipoli.

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I  think I mainly learned about our founding document, the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, from a set of cereal packet cards when I was a child! Decades later I was lucky enough to take part in a reenactment of the signing of the treaty to celebrate its sesquicentennial, but even then I still didn’t know much about the wars that followed.

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During the 1980s I co-authored a couple of local police history books. However, even though there was an obvious linkage with the New Zealand Wars (after all, today’s New Zealand Police descend from the Armed Constabulary), I still didn’t really connect with how those wars were affecting many people in the Māori community today.

The idea of playing a wargame based on New Zealand history never even occurred to me.

But then in 2011 along came a  British company with the ironic name (considering colonialism) of Empress Miniatures, who announced a new range of 28mm metal figures portraying the 1840s campaigns of the New Zealand Wars. There was Hone Heke, exactly as I recalled him from my childhood Weetbix card, along with his fellow chief Kawiti and their warriors, the men of the British Regiments of Foot, the colonial militia and even the Royal Navy.

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I was immediately hooked by what looked to be a lovely set of figures, that for once depicted a struggle closer to home. Off went my order to England. And, as does any wargamer who takes up a new period, I started by reading up a few histories.

Initially I was just searching for superficial information, such as what the soldiers and warriors looked like, the weapons and tactics they used, and the type of terrain they fought over. This was the sort of stuff I needed to know to be able to paint the figures accurately and to create suitable tabletop scenery.

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However, as time went on I began reading more and more deeply, and started learning about the background of the wars, what drove the participants on both sides (willingly or unwillingly), and the legacy they left, particularly through the confiscation of Māori land.

This burgeoning interest gradually infiltrated into my work-life, where I became more aware of the role of the impact of colonialism on my job, and increasingly interested in te reo Māori (the Māori language) and tikanga Māori (Māori custom) generally.

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We’ve probably all heard of people maligning the hobby of wargaming by saying that it’s a war-mongering entertainment that trivialises the history and heartbreak of war. But it was this hobby that initially attracted and then inspired me to dig deeper and gain an understanding of not only the New Zealand Wars, but of their legacy to this very day.

I bet many wargamers from all over the world could say the same about whatever periods they recreate. Wargaming, through its unique visual and hands-on experience, is an amazing way of piquing interest in history. It then goes on to foster deeper learning by the very fact that to be a good wargamer, you need to research your chosen period.

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I believe that wargaming can result in much deeper historical engagement than you’ll ever get from more common (but less often maligned) conflict-based entertainments, such as watching war movies or reading war novels.  

I hope that if the New Zealand Wars do become part of our national curriculum, teachers won’t overlook the potential of a fascinating miniature wargame to spark their pupils’ first interest in our country’s history.

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Colonial NZ Wars table at The Winterdale Tavern

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At yesterday’s open day at New Zealand’s newest wargaming venue – The Winterdale Tavern on the Kāpiti Coast – I put on a colonial New Zealand Wars game.

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Well, I say ‘game’, but in fact because of it’s location right by the front door, we decided to make it an eye-catcher for visitors, so it was really just a static display. I actually love doing static displays, as it lets my imagination run wild in setting up a feast of lovely terrain, as well as providing an excuse to jam-pack the table with as many of my models as I can!

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Working from the back of the table, the first thing to capture the eye was a Māori pā, which was 3D-printed for me by Printable Scenery  

A pā was a fortified settlement or position with palisades and defensive terraces. The pā was constructed of rows of strong log palisades. Behind the palisades there was usually a trench, so that the defending warriors were fully protected as they fired through loopholes at ground level. 

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Inside the pā is a captured carronade with which the warriors fire on the British, using any old iron as ammunition. The gun is mounted on a wooden slide, secured with blocks and tackle to a couple of handy tree stumps.

In the background is an impressive Māori meeting house and two accompanying huts, all products of Printable Scenery.

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Up the mighty Waikato River (truncated to just a little stream on my small table!) chugs the paddle steamer ‘Avon’. This model is based on a real gunboat that started life as a pleasure boat on the River Avon in Christchurch, but was later fitted with sheet metal armour to become one of New Zealand’s earliest warships.

‘Avon’ mounted a 12-pounder Armstrong breech-loading gun on her bow. At the stern was a wooden shed-like structure with loopholes from which troops could fire.

The ‘Avon’ also had a novel self-defence system, with her boiler connected to a pipe running right around the hull, so that scalding water could be sprayed upon anyone attempting to board.

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Moving to the middle of the tale, the first thing viewers cud see was this huge naval 32- trying to pound the Māori pā into submission.

Naval guns were really used during the early New Zealand Wars, dragged miles through the rugged bush, for example at the Battle of Ruapekapeka. The crews would then build wooden platforms from which to fire these great guns.

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Beside the gun, you can see the commander and his two mounted aides. This photo makes the blue of these rather plain uniforms look lighter than it actually is – in fact, my paint job is almost black, which I’ve achieved by washing the finished figures with black ink.

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Emerging from the bush is a ‘taua’, or war-party, of warriors. Half of them are armed with muskets, whilst the others have the double-barreled shotguns that were very popular with Māori warriors. 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.

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The warriors are skirmishing with a firing line of British infantry. The soldiers aren’t in their traditional red coats, but are  dressed in the distinctive blue uniforms worn by the British in New Zealand during the 1860s. The officer running out front is wearing a patrol jacket with ornate black braiding. 

The unit is being led by a man carrying a flag, even though standards weren’t as a rule carried during the colonial NZ Wars. But there is some evidence that occasionally a plain Union Jack was used.

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Right at the front of the table is another line of infantry running forward in support. They’re the grenadier company, as distinguished by the white touries on their caps.

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Cavalry didn’t play such a significant part in the larger battles of the New Zealand Wars, but they did take part in a lot of minor engagements. I’ve painted these horsemen as members of the Military Train (i.e. the supply column), who sometimes had to fight as cavalry because the British never brought any actual cavalry units to New Zealand.

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Here’s a colonial militia unit dressed in a rag-tag collection of civilian clothes and part uniforms. They represent a hastily-recruited militia or Civic Guard unit.

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One little vignette that attracted a lot of attention was this civilian group defending their cottage. Mr Atkinson is still bandaged from a wound in an earlier clash, Mrs Atkinson doles out the gunpowder from a small barrel, daughter Amelia flinches as she fires her father’s pistol, and little Annie brings up a haversack of  spare ammunition.

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In the field on the right you can see a small Royal Navy shore party. Sailors took a major role in many of the battles of the colonial New Zealand Wars.

Overall, the table attracted a lot of attention, with many people surprised that there are  figures and terrain commercially available to recreate the wars that took place on our own doorstep.

 

 

Display game of the colonial New Zealand Wars

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Our display game of the Battle of Boulcott’s Farm (1846) took place today at the Paraparaumu Public Library. This was to help mark the inaugural Rā Maumahara National Day of Commemoration of the New Zealand Wars, fought from 1843 to 1872 between many Māori groups against British and New Zealand forces supported by other Māori allies.

Last year a petition to Parliament organised by Otorohanga College students called for a national commemoration day of the New Zealand Wars.  They felt the wars fought on our own soil had been forgotten in comparison to our involvement overseas during WW1 and WW2. As a result, the government instituted 28 October as the new annual ‘Rā Maumahara National Day of Commemoration of the New Zealand Wars’.

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With the release by Empress Miniatures a few years ago of a wonderful range of figures for this period, the wargaming hobby was well-suited to contribute in a small way to the day. And thus our display game in the Paraparaumu Public Library was born.

The intent of the game was more to engage with the public, than to actually play the game seriously. So we had a leisurely game with lots of stops to talk to spectators, and even to be photographed by a local paper.

In fact, we had already got some decent media pre-coverage the day before in our major daily paper (click on the picture below to read the full article).

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We interacted with quite a few people during the day. Some had come specially to see the game, others just happened by. As you can imagine, a display in a public library got a totally different crowd than what you would get at a wargames show.

But everyone we spoke to (and we made a great effort to ensure we did speak to everyone) seemed very interested and engaged, with some people spending a considerable amount of time chatting with us, either talking about the history of the New Zealand Wars, or curious about the hobby in general.

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We thought the game would also be slow because we were all newbies to the rules we were using – The Men Who Would Be Kings. However, aided by a quick reference chart I drew up, the game went remarkably smoothly, and we even had time to run it through twice on the day.

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I can’t comment too much on the narrative of what happened in each game, as it was a fairly hectic day chatting to people, learning the rules etc. The incidents I particularly recall were:

  • a party of Māori warriors trampling through tents to charge the sleepy British outlying picket site
  • the  garrison of the stockaded farmstead taking too much time stirring in response to the frantic bugle blowing from their over-run picket
  • a war-party of Māori scambling right over the palings around the farmstead, only to be blasted away by a close order volley from the defenders inside the stockade
  • the Hutt Militia in a nearby village milling around in confusion rather than marching straight towards the sound of gunfire to reinforce the beleaguered farm.

Suffice to say everything that happened seemed to reflect what either did or could have happened in reality.

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Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed by the photos I took.  Because of the continual public interaction, I didn’t have time to set up and take as many photos as I would normally do, so the selection from which to pick the best shots for publication was quite small!

Nevertheless, I do hope from these few photos you can see that the display achieved its purpose of promoting the history of the New Zealand Wars. And of course we all played our part seriously, as you can see Bala Menzies doing in the pic below …

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Gathering the forces for my colonial New Zealand Wars game

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I am putting on a colonial New Zealand Wars demonstration game at the Paraparaumu Public Library on Saturday 28 October to help mark our National Day of Commemoration of the New Zealand Wars.

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Today I started gathering together the resources I’ll need for a game set in 1846, using Dan Mersey’s The Men Who Would Be Kings colonial wargaming rules.

The Māori warriors

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Obviously one of the first essentials will be a force of Māori warriors. These are the beautiful 28mm metal figures produced by Empress Miniatures in the United Kingdom, and painted by yours truly.

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At this stage I’m still not sure if I’ll have them grouped as three 16-figures as prescribed in the rules for ‘Tribal Infantry’, or if they will be regrouped into four 12-man units to be classed as ‘Irregular Infantry’. It is a bit of a conundrum as historically the Māori warrior fell somewhere between these two types.

The rules call for forces to usually total 24 points, so if I do use the 16-man ‘Tribal Infantry’ units at 3-4 points a unit, I’ll have nowhere near enough figures.

You’ll see my Māori force also has a carronade available if we choose to use it in the game. This model is based on the famous ‘Kawiti’s Carronade’ used in the Northern War, and which can still be seen at Ruapekapeka Pā to this day.

The British and colonial troops

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I have far more figures for this side than I do for the Māori – an imbalance I must address in due course. So not all these troops will take part in the game. These are again figures by Empress Miniatures.

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The force consists of two units of the 58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot, who are ‘Regular Infantry’ under the rules. They are accompanied by a unit of colonial militia, whom I am going to class as inferior to the regulars.

There’s also a unit of Royal Navy sailors, who will be classed as ‘Irregular Infantry’, but with good fighting skills – sailors could almost be regarded as the ‘shock troops’ of this period. The sailors have two pieces of artillery that might or might not be used in the game – a Congreve rocket tube and a massive 32-pounder cannon.

Finally, there’s a pair of officers and a pair of marksmen. I don’t think they’ll play a part in the game, but might still appear on the table as vignettes.

The bush

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An essential part of any game set in the New Zealand is the archetypal bush that covers much of the country. I’ve gathered quite a selection of trees and shrubs from a variety of sources, mostly via cheap eBay stores. The latest find are the palm trees on the right.

What is missing of course are the large fern shrubs that should cover the ground, as well as the huge tree-ferns you often find in the New Zealand bush. I haven’t found a good source for these as yet.

The rules

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As mentioned, I’ll be using Dan Mersey’s The Men Who Would be Kings rules. These are generic rules for the entire ‘colonial’ period (thus the above cover illustration that has nothing to do with the New Zealand Wars!).

As we’ll all be newbies to using these rules, I’ve put together a Quick Reference Sheet that includes all the basic things we’ll need to refer to often. But it only lists the actual troop types and weapons applicable to our game, so for instance you won’t see any cavalry listed on my QRS.

I’m still tinkering with the various abilities and points values, so the QRS shown here may not yet be the final. If any TMWWBK  players have any thoughts or suggestions, please let me know.

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Video trailer about colonial New Zealand Wars

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A trailer has just been launched of a new video documentary about the colonial New Zealand Wars. The film will describe the Battle of Ruapekapeka that took place in 1846 (click on the link below to view the trailer).

Great Southern Television is working on this interactive online project for Radio NZ on the New Zealand Wars. It will include a documentary, podcast, battle reconstruction and online museum, telling the story of the 19th century wars between the Crown and Māori.

Ruapekapeka was one of the largest and most complex pā (Māori fortifications) in New Zealand, that was designed specifically to counter the cannons of the British forces. It was the site of the last battle in the Flagstaff War, between Colonial forces and warriors of Ngāpuhi led by Hone Heke and Te Ruki Kawiti.

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In this screen-grab from the trailer, as well as the heading picture at the top of this posting, we see men of the 58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot, recognisable by their black facings and cap bands, advancing through the bush.

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Soldiers struggle to drag a cannon through the rugged bush. In late 1845 the Colonial forces, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Despard, began a two-week advance over 20 kilometres (12 miles) to bring artillery up to the pā.

The ordnance included three naval 32-pounders, one 18-pounder, two 12-pounder howitzers, one 6-pounder brass gun, four mortars, and two rocket-tubes.

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The above picture is another scene of the cannon being transported through the thick undergrowth.  This isn’t a screen-grab, but a photo taken by one of the film crew.  It gives a good impression of the tough job the soldiers would have faced.

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To show the care taken to get the uniforms right in the video, take a look at my painted Empress Miniatures 28mm figures depicting the same regiment.

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A group of soldiers from the 58th patrol past some ferns and toitoi plants, typical of the New Zealand landscape.

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Back to the video, here’s a screen-grab of a group of Māori warriors doing a haka, or war-dance.

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This close-up of Māori shooting through the loopholes at the bottom of the pā palisades shows the combination of traditional and western dress adopted by many warriors.

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During the bombardment of the pā, the defenders took cover in bomb-proof shelters. Lieutenant Balnevis, who took part in the siege, commented in his journal that Ruapekapeka was ‘a most extraordinary place, a model of engineering, with a treble stockade, and huts inside, these also fortified. A large embankment in rear of it, full of under-ground holes for the men to live in; communications with subterranean passages enfilading the ditch.’

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Early on the morning of Sunday 11 January 1846, a British foraging party noted the defenders were unusually quiet. The small group of British troops pushed over the palisade and entered the pā, finding it almost empty. They were reinforced, while Māori tried to re-enter the pā from the back. After a four-hour gun fight the remaining Māori withdrew, abandoning the pā.

Some say the pā had been left almost empty because the defenders were holding a Sunday church service, others say it was a deliberate ploy to draw the British forces into the rugged bush.

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Here are some of my Empress Miniatures doing a traditional haka.

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Another view of my Māori warriors, in this case playing their part in a tabletop reenactment of the Battle of Boulcott Farm, which took place that same year near Wellington.

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The video includes some great shots of Ruapekapeka pā, both physical reconstructions and computer generated images. Here you can see puffs of black powder smoke issuing from the loopholes at the bottom of the palisades.

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In this shot you see a portion of one of the many huts inside the pā.

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Traces of Ruapekapeka pā can still be seen to this day.

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The presenter of the video, well-known journalist Mihingarangi Forbes, appears in a clever scene where we see Ruapekapeka pā  as it appears today, then as the camera pulls back the pā of 1846 starts to appear through the magic of CGI.

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The palisades and huts start to appear.

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Now we see the thick bush that edged up to the palisades of the pā.

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My model pā was designed and 3D-printed by Printable Scenery. It includes palisades of various sizes, several huts, and an ornate gate. The carvings on the latter are of a somewhat apocryphal design!

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In my pā, you can even see Chief Hone Heke (left).

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Next Saturday my miniature figures will take part in a tabletop recreation at my local library as part of the inaugural Raa Maumahara National Day of Commemoration of the New Zealand Wars.

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As the New Zealand Wars committee chairman Peeni Henare has said: ‘Learning the history has to be a path to reconciliation. We can’t say there won’t be resentment. The commemoration is simply to inform the people of Aotearoa-New Zealand. Once it is in our psyche, the day will grow in importance. It is beautiful, brutal, illustrious, deeply moving history.’

Display game to commemorate colonial New Zealand Wars

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On Saturday 28th October I’ll be hosting a public display game of the colonial New Zealand Wars, as part of my country’s inaugural Rā Maumahara National Day of Commemoration of the New Zealand Land Wars.

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This display game will take place in the Paraparaumu Public Library, so will likely get a completely different type of spectator than at at a wargames event or show. Most will never have seen a wargame before, let alone one that depicts local history.

We’ll be using The Men Who Would be Kings ruleset for colonial wargaming, though this will be a bit of a test for us, as I don’t think anyone here (including me) has played these rules yet!

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Because I am hopeless remembering even the simplest of numbers, I wanted to have a more detailed quick reference sheet for The Men Who Would Be Kings than the one supplied in the rulebook.

Therefore I have developed a couple of new posters (see below), which I plan to blow up to A3 and pin above the table, so we can easily refer to them in-game for the most commonly used rules.

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But overall this’ll be very much a display game, rather than concentrating too much on the game-play. The aim is more to engage with the public to promote knowledge of the somewhat forgotten history of the colonial New Zealand Wars.

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I think this display will fit well with the vision of the New Zealand Wars committee chairman Peeni Henare, when he said, ‘The commemoration is simply to inform the people of Aotearoa-New Zealand. Once it is in our psyche, the day will grow in importance. It is beautiful, brutal, illustrious, deeply moving history.’

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‘Tribal’ pre-gunpowder skirmish rules – Māori, Aztecs, Japanese, gladiators – oh my!

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Tribal by Australian company, Mana Press, is a set of skirmish gaming rules designed for recreating pre-gunpowder inter-tribal conflicts.

The aim of Tribal is to capture the essence of the heroic skirmish style warfare that existed in many pre-gunpowder cultures, who exalted the feats of the individual and their courage and prowess in battle.

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Central to this type of warfare (and to the Tribal wargame) is the concept of honour. Honour determines why one is fighting, how battle is conducted, what sorts of tactics (both honourable and dishonourable) are used, and who becomes the victor at the end.

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Tribal takes an innovative approach in using playing cards, rather than dice. In fact, you need neither dice nor measuring tapes for this game! Activation, movement, fighting are all driven by a couple of sets of ordinary playing cards. Other than that, you just need some tokens to represent ‘honour’, and of course some figures and scenery.

Whilst the splendid cover features a tattooed Māori warrior, these rules specifically cover other pre-gunpowder fighting than just Māori inter-tribal warfare, such as Vikings, Aztecs, Heian Japanese, and even Roman gladiators. But overall, the rules do have an emphasis on the Māori inter-tribal wars (no doubt based on the writers’ Kiwi backgrounds).

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Australian manufacturer Eureka Miniatures actually makes a set of Māori figures specifically designed to work with Tribal, as illustrated in the pics above and below, borrowed from the Eureka website.

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Or you could use Empress Miniatures figures for this game – the ones without firearms (like some of those in my picture below). Or, of course, you could use Vikings, Aztecs, Samurai, Roman Gladiators etc.

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As they stand, the Tribal rules won’t be suitable for colonial wars, as they don’t include rules for using firearms. But I think I’ve heard that Mana Press are interested in expanding their rules to include them (can anyone confirm or deny?).

From my initial read-through, Tribal seems to be a characterful yet relatively simple game. Of course, this opinion is yet to be borne out one way or the other through actually playing the rules. But at only $10 to download the PDF in two formats (one lavishly designed, the other more printer-friendly), Tribal is a good deal even if you just read the rules rather than actually play them!

POSTSCRIPT: While I was writing the above article, I forgot that I’d already written a overview of Tribal back in June 2016 (and in more detail than the posting above)!!! So if you want to know more about Tribal, have a look at my old article too!

Crown forces of the New Zealand Wars (1860s)

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Here are the British and colonial forces to face my daring Māori in games of The Men Who Would Be Kings. They’re dressed in the distinctive blue uniforms worn by the British in New Zealand during the 1860s. Click on the pics for a closer view.

The combined units in these photos total more than the 24 points that the rules recommend for a field force, so I would select from these units for each game.

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Included are three units of British regular infantry, one of colonial militia, and one of Royal Navy sailors. There is also a unit of cavalry or mounted infantry, an artillery piece, and a rocket tube.

They’re a mixture of 28mm Empress Miniatures and Perry Miniatures.

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