This is the story of the eight river ironclad gunboats deployed during the British invasion of the Waikato in 1863, when a force of 12000 British and Colonial troops invaded the Waikato region.

To reach the rich pastoral land of the Waikato interior a reliable transport route was required to move the men and their supplies. The Waikato river provided that route.

The armoured iron gunboats were deployed as a naval force and transport service to move the troops past the Maori fortifications along the river.

HMCS Avon with reduced armour as she was deployed on the Waipa River in January 1864

HMCS Avon with reduced armour as she was deployed on the Waipa River in January 1864

HMCS Pioneer, originally named Waikato as she looked on her arrival at Onehunga from Australia in 1863.

HMCS Pioneer, originally named Waikato as she looked on her arrival at Onehunga from Australia in 1863.

HMCS Koheroa, built in Sydney and shipped to Port Waikato in sections where she were assembled in 1864

HMCS Koheroa, built in Sydney and shipped to Port Waikato in sections where she were assembled in 1864

The small gunboats Ant and Chub, two of the four coastal sailing craft that were armoured with iron plate and fitting with an Armstrong gun and Coehorn mortar.

The small gunboats Ant and Chub, two of the four coastal sailing craft that were armoured with iron plate and fitting with an Armstrong gun and Coehorn mortar.