On the 16th November 1863 a force of about nine hundred men, under Lieut.-Colonel Carey, embarked at Auckland for the Thames Gulf. The object of the expedition was to occupy the principal Maori settlements on the western shore of the gulf, whence men and supplies had been sent to the Waikato, and to establish a line of forts across country from the sea to the Queen's Redoubt.
The Kingite position at Paparata still threatened the rear of Cameron's army, and raiding-parties were able to cross the frontier at will and rove the Wairoa Ranges. Carey's expeditionary force consisted of two companies of the Auckland Coastguards (Naval Volunteers; Captain William C. Daldy), sixty of the Colonial Defence Force Cavalry (Captain Walmsley), detachments of the 12th and 70th Regiments, and the 1st Regiment of Waikato Militia. The warships "Miranda" and "Esk" headed the fleet of transports, which included the Government gunboat "Sandfly," the steamers "Corio" and "Alexandra," the brigantine "Jessie," and seven or eight cutters. The Cavalrymen and their horses were taken down in the "Corio" and "Alexandra."
For eight days the vessels lay at anchor in Waiheke Passage, weather - bound. At last the fleet brought up off Wakatiwai, north of the Pukorokoro, a small stream which flows out into the mangrove-fringed gulf near the spot now known as Miranda. The Coastguards were boated ashore at Wakatiwai, and, cutting their way through bush and scrub, they reached the main ridge and marched along it towards the Pukorokoro, about six miles. In the meantime the gunboat steamed southward. From Wakatiwai a beautiful shelly beach extended nearly to Pukorokoro. This stretch of beach and the rising ground behind were thick with enemy rifle-pits, in two lines, extending over about a mile north and south. The Maoris had also blocked the mouth of the Pukorokoro with large limbs of pohutukawa trees. (The "Miranda" and "Sandfly" had reconnoitered Pukorokoro a fortnight previously, when three of the native villages were shelled.) The Coastguards, hurrying along the ridge, were just in time to see the Kingites retreating quickly across the creek in the direction of Waitakaruru and the Piako Swamp. The officer commanding the Coastguards (who had by this time been joined by the rest of the military force) obtained permission to lead the attack on the native village at Pukorokoro, which stood a short distance south of the stream. Doubling up past the Regulars and Militia, the bluejackets took the lead and crossed the creek. The Maoris made no stand, but quickly retreated along the narrow level belt between the mangroves and the hills for about two miles towards the Piako Swamp.
The Miranda Redoubt.
On the bluff above the creek-mouth the troops built a redoubt for 120 men. It was named the Miranda, after the warship. Major Mould commanded. Working detachments were sent out later along a route westward selected for a line of posts to the Waikato, and two redoubts, named the Esk and the Surrey, were constructed along the Miranda—Mangatawhiri line, linking up with the Queen's Redoubt.
The Esk Redoubt
This redoubt, for 150 men, named after H.M.S. “Esk,” was constructed at the end of November, 1863, by the force under Colonel Carey. Capt. Tighe commanded. It was situated on a commanding ridge between the Miranda post (Pukorokoro) and the Surrey Redoubt, south of Paparata, and formed one of the chain of redoubts from the Thames Gulf to the Waikato River. It was 4.5 km inland from Miranda and another 8.5 km to Surrey.
The Surrey Redoubt.
This redoubt, named after the regiment, was the command centre for the 70th Regiment. It was situated just above the Mangatangi Stream and overlooked an abandoned Maori village and extensive gardens. It was in line of sight and some 14 km to General Cameron’s command base at “Queens Redoubt” at Pokeno which was the end of the Great South Road at that time.
The purpose of these three Redoubts was to protect Cameron’s eastern flank and preventing opposing forces access to the Hunua and Wairoa Ranges. Significant forces in the ranges would have made the supply line of the Great South Road very vulnerable. Each redoubt contained around 150 troops of which roughly half were made up of the 70th regiment.
The Redoubts were sufficient deterrent as they saw no combat. Surrey and Esk were abandoned in April 1866 and Miranda approximately one year later.
The HMS ships Miranda and Esk were fully rigged ships, each approximately 60m in length and had single screw steam propulsion. An officer of the Esk was Captain Hamilton who lost his life at the Battle for Gate Pa, near Tauranga. The city of Hamilton carries his name.
Cowan. Vol 1 p313