In January 1864 the Waikato campaign moved over the Kaimai Ranges to Tauranga. A British force of some 700 men under the command of Brigadier-General G.J. Carey arrived by sea from Auckland. This force had orders to enforce a blockade of the flow of reinforcements and supplies from local Ngāi Te Rangi to the Kīngitanga force in Waikato. Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and other Tauranga Māori who had been fighting in Waikato returned home to oppose what they saw as the occupation of their lands.
There were two decisive actions in this phase of the New Zealand Wars. In late April, at Pukehinahina or the Gate Pā, 250 Ngāi Te Rangi inflicted a heavy defeat on a much larger British force of 1700 men. This defeat embarrassed the British military and its leadership. Two months later some face was saved at Te Ranga when a Māori force of 500 men was heavily defeated after being caught in the open while trying to complete their fortifications. In July Ngāi Te Rangi pledged peace and surrendered some of their weapons.
The settler population urged Governor George Grey and his military to press home their advantage. Their imperial masters thought otherwise. London wanted an end to the expensive fighting and made clear its intention to begin withdrawing imperial troops from New Zealand.