The Taranaki region of present day New Zealand spreads from the central plateau of the North Island to the western coast. The Maori people, indigenous to the region, once inhabited it and the surrounding areas. By 1860, New Zealand had been a colony of Britain for nearly 20 years and land conflicts were common as growing European settlements encroached onto Maori land; British representatives were determined to assert their authority over the whole country.
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Between February and July of 1951, up to 22,000 waterfront workers (wharfies) in New Zealand struck for better pay and shorter workings hours.