By 1837 Kororāreka in the Far North was evolving, leaving behind its notorious reputation as hellish. However, an uprising of undesirables in the town brought about disruption, and serious crimes flourished. One example was the robbery of John Wright’s store where three men demanded tobacco and gunpowder. There was also a perceived threat of riot and attacks, especially from Māori.
In response to the rising crime, business and property owners formed the Kororāreka Association on 23 May 1838. This creation of a vigilante association for moral policing followed a trend in Britain, and was preferable to complete lawlessness.
The role of the Kororāreka Association was to regulate behaviour in the Bay of Islands. Members encouraged people to conform by various means including fines and coercion. These men made laws, had powers to arrest and could bring people to trial and punish them. Every member armed himself.
The Association existed alongside James Busby, the British Government representative who was expected, but not resourced, to provide order.
When Governor Hobson arrived in 1840 the unofficial group was disbanded. However, at times new official troopers joined with ex-members, now called the Kororāreka Volunteers, to control any obstruction or turmoil.
Cherrett, Owen J. ‘Without Fear or Favour: 150 Years of Policing Auckland 1840 – 1990’. New Zealand Police and L. Patrick Hunter, 1989.
‘First Attempt at Government – The Kororareka Settlers’ Association’ (accessed 17 March 2018)
Hill, Richard S. ‘The History of Policing in New Zealand: Policing the Colonial Frontier – The Theory and Practice of Coercive Social and Racial Control in New Zealand, 1967 -1867’. Historical Publications Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1986.