At the end of April, 470 officers and men of the 58th and 96th regiment were dispatched to the Bay of Islands by ship. The officers decided that their first strike would against Otuihu Pā, the long-established papa kāinga (home village) for the people of Ngāti Manu. Otuihu was also an important trading centre and boasted a sizable pākehā population. Pōmare II, chief of Ngāti Manu and a rangātira with considerable mana, lived at Otuihu.
Pōmare’s pā burning, with the H.M.S Northstar in the foreground.
By J. Williams. From the Alexander Turnbull Library ref. A-079-032
The surprising thing about Otuihu is that Pōmare himself was not involved with the attack on Kororāreka. It seems his loyalties were divided, and that he wished to appear neutral in the eyes of the British. However, the governor had received intelligence that Pōmare was stockpiling gunpowder and ammunition for Hōne Heke.
The HMS North Star and several troopships sailed up the Kawakawa River and anchored off Otuihu. The British persuaded Pōmare to come aboard the North Star. When Pōmare made to leave the ship, he was seized and made prisoner. After an armed standoff, the soldiers entered Otuihu, plundered the valuable stores of trade goods, and set the pā ablaze. The soldiers didn't find any gunpowder or ammunition inside the pā, but they did find plenty of ducks, turkeys and pigs.