The electric telegraph line was extended from Queen’s Redoubt to Rangiriri, and kūpapa Māori helped open an overland supply route from Raglan to the Waipā River.
Ngāti Maniapoto leader Rewi Maniapoto had been against building the pā at Rangiriri. He had instead focused on the construction of a defensive line centred on Pāterangi in south Waikato, between Te Awamutu and the Waipā River.
A series of fortifications at Te Rore, Pikopiko and Ōhaupō protected Māori from an attack from either the Waipā or Horotiu rivers. More importantly, unlike Meremere and Rangiriri, Pāterangi could not be outflanked by river. The complex consisted of 2 km of trenches, with critical junctions supported by redoubts. By early January 1864 Cameron had 7000 men south of Ngāruawāhia. Most were to maintain the supply lines for his strike force.
On 28 January 2100 men left camps at Whatawhata and Tuhikaramea. In addition to Imperial troops there were Colonial Defence Force and volunteer cavalry and two companies of Forest Rangers. Pikopiko was bypassed and by lunchtime on the 29th Pāterangi was in sight. Ensign Gilbert Mair, Cameron’s interpreter, was struck by its impressive nature – Pāterangi ‘would be the most fearful place to storm’ – but observed that ‘the general has [no] intention of attacking it at all.’
Estimates of the size of the garrison Rewi was able to assemble vary. Māori evidence suggests that at its peak 2000 men from a dozen iwi were present. Though this was the largest Māori mobilisation of the war, their numbers were still insufficient to both man the pā and harass Cameron’s force. Hoping Cameron would attack as he had done at Rangiriri, the garrison became frustrated with his cautious strategy. For three weeks artillery shelled the pā occasionally and there was some long-range sniping. Māori referred to this period as ‘Maumau Pauru’ (‘waste of gunpowder’).
On 11 February some of the Māori at Pāterangi attempted to force the issue by attacking a party of soldiers at the advanced camp at Waiari. Māori lost about 30 men; six were killed on the British side. For his actions here Captain Charles Heaphy of the Auckland Volunteer Rifles was later awarded a Victoria Cross, the first member of a locally raised or colonial military unit in the British Empire to be so recognised. Cameron remained patient. The Avon and the newly arrived Koheroa had both grounded several times in the shallow Waipā River, and sufficient supplies for an advance had not arrived until 17 February 1864.Date1864PlacePāterangiGeolocation