In the lexicon of colonial encounters in New Zealand, the word "savage" featured frequently, although references to the term in most of the historiography covering this period is generally limited to reiterations of its pejorative nature when applied to Maori. However, there was never a single archetype of the "savage" when applied to New Zealand's Indigenous Maori population. Its significance for how Europeans understood both Maori and their own position in the colonisation process was far more nuanced. This article examines the context, motives, and implications of the use of "savage" to describe Maori in the colonial era.

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