From 'The second Taranaki war', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/taranaki-wars/second-taranaki-war, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 9-Apr-2019
On 12 March 1863, 300 men of the 57th Regiment evicted Māori from land they had occupied at Tātaraimaka, 20 km south-west of New Plymouth. The tribes occupying the land – Te Ātiawa, Taranaki, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Rauru and Whanganui – viewed this as an act of war.
With plans for an invasion of Waikato well under way, Governor George Grey was keen to resolve the conflict in Taranaki. In April 1863 he was preparing to return the disputed land at Waitara, although this was not communicated to Māori. On 4 May nine of the ten soldiers in a small British party were killed in an ambush near Ōakura. Grey blamed the Kīngitanga, which he claimed was also 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 a road to the Waikato River were recalled to New Plymouth. Settler volunteers and militia were called up, including a new unit, the Taranaki Bush Rangers.
Grey now adopted a ‘carrot and stick’ strategy. Shortly after the ambush at Ōakura, he renounced the government’s claim to Waitara while planning to evict the 50 Maori who were still camped at Tātaraimaka. On 4 June, 870 men led by the British commander, Lieutenant-General Duncan Cameron, overwhelmed the small Māori force occupying 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 in the Tātaraimaka block.