Māori at gates of New Plymouth cartoon

Māori at gates of New Plymouth cartoon

This cartoon from Taranaki Punch, 21 February 1861 is titled 'Awful Impudence'. It has a Māori man asking, 'Please when will it be convenient to begin Burning the Houses in the Town, for we have nearly done the job outside.'

Shortly after the outbreak of the Taranaki War in March 1860 New Plymouth came under siege as Māori quickly gained control of much of the territory to the north and south of the town. Frustrated and frightened settlers felt the British troops were doing little to alleviate this situation. Living conditions deteriorated in New Plymouth to the point that disease posed a greater threat than warfare. As many as 121 people died from diseases such as scarlet fever during this period. Settler farms continued to burn and a number of settlers, including children, beyond the safety of the town were killed. Many settlers were evacuated to Nelson and Auckland.

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