After attacking Rangiaowhia, Cameron withdrew to Te Awamutu to await the Kingites’ response. When Rewi Maniapoto heard of the attack on Rangiaowhia he moved 400 fighters to the Hairini ridge, between Te Awamutu and Rangiaowhia. Here a defensive position was improvised to protect Rangiaowhia from further attack. Hairini presented Cameron with a rare opportunity to fight his opponents in the open. A force of 1200 men with two 6-pounder Armstrong guns marched from Te Awamutu on 22 February to confront Rewi’s men.
While one of Tempsky’s Forest Rangers described the initial action as ‘as pretty a bit of hot firing as I have ever seen’, Rewi’s position was no match for a concerted British attack. Rangiaowhia was occupied once more, this time without opposition. Wholesale looting occurred, with the Forest Rangers in particular helping themselves to anything they could lay their hands on. Hairini had been fortified to buy time while people and supplies were evacuated from Rangiaowhia and the Pāterangi line. This was the only fighting in which Wiremu Tāmihana, usually a mediator and advocate for peace, was personally involved: ‘for the first time my hand struck, my anger being great about my dead, murdered, and burnt with fire, at Rangiaowhia’. From Hairini Tāmihana returned to his pa, Te Tiki-o-te-ihinga-rangi, on Maungatautari above the Horotiu (upper Waikato) River.
In April, after the battle at Ōrākau, he and his people quietly abandoned this pā and returned to Peria, near Matamata. He wrote again to Grey and to other Māori leaders, seeking peace negotiations. When fighting shifted to Tauranga later in April, Tāmihana’s offer to mediate was ignored. According to Pugsley, Hairini ‘should have marked the end of the Waikato campaign’. But it did not. ‘There was still yet one tragedy to enact at Orakau’.