Cook's earlier visits, he had recommended New Zealand
as ideal for settlement by Europeans. Cook had described the
Māori as "intelligent and adaptable, in spite of
their inter-tribal wars." Cook particularly recommended
the Bay of Islands in the far North, for settlement.
The British Government did not pay
much attention to Cooks recommendations, but by 1810 American and
European whalers and traders began invading the Bay of Islands,
creating a settlement called Kororareka (known today as Russell).
The first missionaries also arrived. New Zealand, left to its own
devices and not yet a colony, became a country without law and order.
Kororareka, later to become the first capital of the country, became
the fifth largest settlement in New Zealand, turning into a shantytown
inflated with brothels and grog shops. The Ngapuhi tribe, from the
north Auckland region, were able to trade with Europeans for the
much needed and devastating inter-tribal war weapon, the musket.
The Ngapuhi became the first tribe to obtain this new and devastating
The inter-tribal wars in the North, between 1818 and 1833, became
known as "The
Musket Wars". This new weapon caused wholesale massacre
among the rival tribes. The northern tribes, being the first to
obtain the musket from the many traders in the Bay of Islands, immediately
sought "utu" (revenge) with enemy tribes. Many other tribes further
south had not yet seen the musket.
The Māori population in Kororareka became reduced, due not only
to the inter-tribal musket warfare, but also to European introduced
diseases and depravity. It was because of this lawless situation
that both Māori and the 2.000 odd British settlers scattered around
the coast requested Britain to intervene.
The British Government was at first reluctant to act, but reports
by Missionaries of the degradation of the country, coupled with
rumours that the French were establishing plans to colonise New
Zealand led the British to appoint an Official British Resident
by the name of James
Busby to Kororareka, in 1833, with the aim of exercising some
sort of order.
Busby's particular statute did not invest him with much authority,
and he therefore had little success in his mission.