Fort Britomart in the 1860s

A group of officers and NCOs pose with a mortar and a cannon at Fort Britomart in Auckland.

Following a resumption of hostilities in Taranaki in the autumn of 1863, nine British soldiers were killed in an ambush at Ōakura. Grey blamed the Kīngitanga, which he alleged was also planning a ‘bloodthirsty’ assault on Auckland. Claims that there was ‘little doubt [that the Waikato] are at the bottom of most of the mischief’ were used to persuade his superiors in London that an attack on Auckland was imminent.

Central to the defence of Auckland was Fort Britomart. Situated on the clifftop site of an earlier pā, the first building had been completed in 1841. Other structures were added in response to external and local threats in subsequent decades. In the early 1870s, with the fighting in the North Island almost at an end, the fort closed and military operations were transferred to the nearby Albert Barracks.

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