However it may also be argued that one of the more urgent points at issue during this series of conflicts was New Zealand's very future as a nation instead of as a country peopled by two coexisting races. The point had arrived at which Maori and European had to decide the shape of their future relationship -- put bluntly, it was showdown time.
- The struggles of the 1860s were not merely Maori versus European, for many Maori fought for the white man and one or two white men fought for the Maori
- They were not merely Christian versus pagan, for Pai Marire evinced some features based upon Christianity
- Neither were they civilisation versus barbarism for, atrocities on both sides notwithstanding, the protagonists often found occasion to honour each other's bearing, dignity and courage.
- They were fought not merely to win land, for much land was given back; nor were they fought to punish rebellion, for many rebels remained unpunished.
- They were not even "Anglo - Maori" wars, for reasons that have everything to do with the fact that few Scots, Irish or Welsh much care for the suggestion.
- They were, in short, nothing that falls readily into discernible categories of black or white; right or wrong; good or bad.
- It may indeed be held that the use of the plural form is in itself a barrier to understanding the nature of the conflict, for it is possible to view the events of the period 1860 - 1872 as one protracted war enlivened, from time to time. by bursts of more intense activity.
- In the end, we need to ask if the question of whether those conflicts of the 1860s, whether dubbed Land Wars, Anglo - Maori Wars or Maori Wars-- each of these, as we have seen, leaving something to be desired in the way of descriptive accuracy -- were not, at bottom, simple manifestations of the desire to preserve a way of life that was changing all too quickly.