New Plymouth in 1857

New Plymouth in about 1857, looking south. Marsland Hill stockade is in the distance at left, with St Mary's Anglican Church below it to the right.

When war broke out in 1860, New Plymouth was a small town. Fewer than 3000 Europeans lived in Taranaki province, nearly all of them in the vicinity of the provincial capital. Seven hundred adult Pākehā males were confronted by twice as many Māori. Only British troops could ensure the settlement's safety.

Taranaki settlers’ opinions of Māori varied. Those willing to sell land were referred to as ‘friendlies’ and deemed worthy of support. Māori unwilling to sell land were seen at best as obstructive and increasingly as rebellious. 

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