The Western and the New Zealand Wars

  • Brendan Sheridan
Keywords: Western, New Zealand Wars, Colonial Films, utu, Te Kooti


There are multiple parallels between the 19th Century migrations into indigenous lands in the American West and Aotearoa. These include conflicts over land between incoming Europeans and indigenous nations, the complicated loyalties that arose during these conflicts, and later romanticisation of the time period. This paper examines two films set during the New Zealand Wars and compares these films to the American Western genre, in particular through the lenses of historical fiction and historiographic metafiction. These approaches provide insight into how the films depict events and why the way they are depicted is dependent upon historical context. These films, The Te Kooti Trail (1927) and Utu (1983), engage with similar subject matter and depict the same time period but portray history in radically different tones.


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How to Cite
Sheridan, B. (2022). The Western and the New Zealand Wars. Back Story Journal of New Zealand Art, Media & Design History, (10), 29-47.