Post by Summer Scholar Lily Pare Hall-Butcher
It’s 1860 and the Crown has just declared war on its Māori subjects in the province of Taranaki, Aotearoa New Zealand. In response, thousands of men from throughout the British Empire come to New Zealand as soldiers of the British Imperial Army. Over the next few years the Army fights battles all over the North Island and bolsters the white settler presence in the South Island. While the majority of these men leave Aotearoa with their regiments, others are officially discharged and stay as settlers. Yet another group left their regiments unofficially – the deserters. Elusive in the archives as they often were in life, most simply disappear from the records. Some became infamous, while others rose to positions of prominence in settler society.