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A Reluctance to Resist

On Chatham Island (pronounced CHAT-ham), about 800 kilometers east of New Zealand, lived the Moriori. They were hunters and gatherers, sparse in population and, perhaps because they were few in number and isolated they were not experienced in warfare or conquest. On November 19, 1835, about 500 Maori from New Zealand arrived seeking new land to occupy, and on December 5 about 400 more arrived. The Maori had a history of warfare and were armed with guns, clubs and axes. Moriori chiefs conferred and drew from their religious heritage. They chose to befriend the Maori and offered them a share of the island's resources. The attempt at appeasement failed. Maori began killing the Moriori, including women and children. The Maori put people in pens and feasted on the tender meat of Moriori children. A Maori conqueror described it:

We took possession …in accordance with our customs and we caught all the people. Not one escaped. Some ran away from us. These we killed, and others we killed, but what of that? It was in accordance with our custom.