Sir Duncan Cameron was sent to deal with several bands of Maori tribes who had joined forces and formed an uprising against British rule around the Tauranga mission, on the northern coast of New Zealand’s north island.
The British bought with them 1900 men armed with Enfield rifles, mortars, artillery guns and a 110-pounder gun (the first example of a gun that size ever being used against an indigenous people). The Maori were 400 in number and armed with their traditional Taiaha’s and double barrel shotguns.
But the Maori had a talent that the British would struggle to counter. They were exceptional Sappers. This meant they could dig incredibly well-built forts, with winding trenches and layers of floors (yes, really) that they would fortify in unison when the British attacked.
Once the enemy numbers became too heavy, the Maori would retreat, move back a few miles and dig another fort in a matter of hours to a couple of days. The Maori’s knew they couldn’t beat the British in all out combat, so they forced them to take positions that would cause heavy losses, thus slowly bleeding their enemy out.