But there is an important difference between the dramas of nineteenth century New Zealand and the dramas of Middle Earth. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit offer audiences an unambiguous battle between the loveable hobbits of the Shire and the alien, almost abstract evil of Sauron. Pakeha readers and viewers can identify easily with Frodo Baggins and his friends, and despise Sauron and his Orcs.
To learn the story of the Waikato War and Peria is, though, a much less comfortable experience. In the story of the Waikato War, the army doing the pillaging and burning is made up not of mindless monsters, but of men acting in the name of the New Zealand state. The place of Sauron is taken by the business and political establishment of Pakeha New Zealand. For politicians, tourism operators, and Pakeha film and book audiences, it is much easier to think about New Zealand as Middle Earth than as a society founded on and consolidated by war.
Out of curiosity, I was looking into the religion of the Māori and prior to this attack the Māori seemed to have been mostly Church of England and Catholic (according to Wiki both the CofE and RCC are still "highly influential" in Māori society today). There was a church in the village of Peria, but I don't know if it was Anglican or Catholic. In any event the British soldiers "who drank, burnt, and looted enthusiastically" were doing such to other Christian peoples, not that it matters in terms of the depravity of their actions, but, well, there is no "violent, child sacrificing natives" line of argument to grasp at as a pseudo-defense of bad actions here. From the 1880s through early 1900s the Presbyterians and Mormons made significant gains among the Māori, though since the 1990s the Māori have been dropping out of the LDS at a rate which has alarmed the LDS.