War in Taranaki 1860-63

Page 8 – The second Taranaki war

On 12 March 1863, 300 men of the 57th Regiment evicted Māori from the land they had occupied at Tātaraimaka, 20 km south-west of New Plymouth. The five tribes occupying the land – Te Ātiawa, Taranaki, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Rauru and Whanganui – viewed this as an act of war.

With plans for the invasion of the Waikato now well under way, Governor George Grey, who had returned for a second term, was keen to resolve the conflict in Taranaki. In April 1863 he prepared to return the land at Waitara, although this was not communicated to Māori. On 4 May an ambush near Ōakura saw nine of the ten soldiers in a small British party killed. Grey pointed the finger at the Kīngitanga, claiming that they were not only behind the ambush but were planning a ‘bloodthirsty’ assault on Auckland. A request for three additional regiments was sent to the Colonial Office in London. Troops who had been moved to Auckland to help build the road southward towards Waikato were recalled to New Plymouth. Settler volunteers and militia were called up once more, including a new unit, the Taranaki Bush Rangers.

Grey now adopted a ‘carrot and stick’ approach. Shortly after the ambush at Ōakura he renounced the government’s claims to Waitara while planning to evict the 50 Maori who were still camped at Tātaraimaka. On 4 June, 870 men led by the new British commander, Lieutenant-General Duncan Cameron, easily overwhelmed the small Māori force from a pā above the Katikara River, killing half of them. Grey watched with interest from HMS Eclipse. Satisfied that the immediate danger in Taranaki had passed, Grey turned his attention to Waikato. Many of the troops in Taranaki were sent back to Auckland and the British abandoned their position at Fort St George on the Tātaraimaka Block.

Allen’s Hill

The invasion of Waikato began on 12 July. Taranaki remained relatively quiet with the exception of a skirmish at Allen’s Hill, above Ōmata, on 2 October 1863. This action, also known as Poutoko, involved members of the 57th Regiment, the Taranaki Mounted Volunteers and the Taranaki Rifle Volunteers. Victoria Crosses were won by Drummer Dudley Stagpoole and Ensign John Down of the 57th Regiment. Portuguese-born settler Antonio Rodrigues de Sardinha became one of only 23 recipients of the New Zealand Cross for his conduct at Allen’s Hill.

After the fighting at Allen’s Hill, the Māori built several pā on the Kaitake range, inland from Ōakura. They were driven out of the area by troops and militia in March 1864 and a redoubt was built to protect local military settlers. Followers of the Pai Mārire (‘Hau Hau’) faith responded on 6 April 1864 by killing seven members of a British patrol in an ambush at Te Ahuahu near Ōakura. The head of one of those slain, Captain Thomas Lloyd, was sent around the North Island to encourage warriors to join Pai Mārire. The war in Taranaki and indeed across the North Island was about to enter a new phase.

How to cite this page

'The second Taranaki war', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/taranaki-wars/second-taranaki-war, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 13-Jan-2016