Boyd Massacre


The Boyd Massacre occurred in December 1809 when Maori residents of the port of Whangaroa in northern New Zealand killed and ate between 66 and 70 Europeans. This is believed to be the highest number of Europeans killed by Maori in a single event in New Zealand, and the incident is also one of the bloodiest cases of cannibalism on record. The massacre is believed to have been in revenge for the whipping of a young Maori chief by the crew of the sailing ship Boyd.

In retribution, European whalers attacked Chief Te Pahi’s pa island some 60 km to the southeast, in the possibly mistaken belief that he ordered the killings. Between 16 and 60 Maori and one European were killed in the clash. News of the events delayed the first missionary visits to the country and caused the number of sending visits to drop by “almost nothing” in the next few years.

The Boyd massacre has gone down in history as one of the bloodiest acts of cannibalism in recent human history. In it, 66 crew members of a ship were killed and cannibalized in Whangaroa.

The Boyd was a brig ship that left Sydney Harbor in Australia in October 1809, carrying 70 passengers and crew to Whangaroa Harbor on the North Island of New Zealand.

George, who was the son of the Whangaroa Maori chief, had agreed to pay for the boat’s transfer to his homeland by working on the boat. Once he began the journey, George refused to obey orders, citing his noble background and his failing health. As punishment for his disobedience he was flogged, facts that he did not hesitate to tell his father on his arrival in Whangaroa in December 1809.

Three days after the Boyds’ arrival, the Maori invited Captain Thompson to follow their canoes in search of kauri wood.

When the ships were beyond the Boyds’ sight, the Maori attacked the foreigners, killing them with clubs and axes. Later, some Maori took the clothing of the victims and disguised themselves, while the rest moved the bodies into town to devour them.