How did this standoff come into being?
By the autumn of 1864 fighting between Maori loyal to the King movement and government forces (British troops and local militia) was moving south and east from the Waikato to the Tauranga district. In late January the first British troops landed at Tauranga establishing Camp Te Papa adjacent to the Mission Station. With troops in their midst, and news of major engagements at Rangiaowhia and Hairini (21-22 February), and Orakau (31 March-2 April), people in Tauranga were faced with the decision of whether or not to take up arms. How could they best defend themselves and their lands?
Portrait of King Tawhiao. Martin album. Ref: PA1-o-334-35. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23183173
'Friend the Colonel. Give heed. We are searching for the meaning of your thoughts, because we have considered your offence.
Your first offence. -The shooting of Maoris by soldiers on the 24th February, 1864.
The second. - The going of the soldiers to Maketu, the meaning of which is an eager desire to fight the Ngatiporou.
The third.-The Queen natives have taken up arms.
The fourth. - The coming of the soldiers to Peterehua [Peterehema - Bethlehem]
Friend, we thoroughly understand your intentions now.
Do you hearken. A challenge for a fight between us is declared. The day of fighting, Friday, the 1st day of April, 1864.
This is a fixed challenge from all the tribes. When our letter reaches you write a reply to us. No more.
HENARE WIREMU TARATOA
From all the tribes.'
Quoted in W.H. Gifford and H.B. Williams, A Centennial History of Tauranga, Dunedin: AH &AW Reed, 1940, p.226.