Media Releases

RNZ launches the New Zealand Wars project - Stories of Ruapekapeka

Released at 9:21 am on 26 October 2017

Just five years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi relationships between Māori and the British government had turned sour. The world’s then-biggest superpower was about to take aim at one of the most sophisticated military installations it had ever tackled, anywhere in the world.

RNZ, in association with Great Southern TV and New Zealand On Air, presents Stories of Ruapekapeka, a unique online project offering historical accounts of the New Zealand Wars.

Stories of Ruapekapeka captures Māori and Pākehā views on Northland’s most infamous armed conflict. It has been launched in conjunction with the New Zealand’s first ever National Day of Commemoration (28 October 2017).

A special RNZ webpage for Stories of Ruapekapeka hosts the main 30-minute documentary and showcases a number of side-bar video pieces, animations and virtual reality battle scenes.

RNZ’s Māori Issues Correspondent and presenter of TV3’s The Hui, Mihingarangi Forbes, hosts the documentary in which she travels across Te Taitokerau to gather the oral stories of iwi historians, weaving their stories with those of prominent New Zealand Wars expert Dr Vincent O’Malley.

Award-winning film director Simon Bennett brings the past to life through a series of detailed re-enactments, translating the recollections of local Māori orators, including Ngāti Hine’s Peeni Henare and Ngāti Wai’s Te Warahi Wallace.

Executive Producer Carmen Leonard describes the project as “one of the most ambitious we have made to date. The end result is a wonderful collaboration of film making techniques that will delight, educate and reveal untold stories to our audience”.

RNZ’s Head of News Carol Hirschfeld added, “Stories of Ruapekapeka offers a truly exciting multimedia experience for audiences. History is made real in a fantastically engaging and unique way.”

The Stories of Ruapekapeka documentary is available online:


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