After the establishment of Port Natal in 1824 the number of white settlers increased dramatically. The port was not originally regarded as a formal part of the British empire, however. After King Shaka Zulu was assassinated in 1828, the decline of the might of the Zulu empire began, and within 14 years the hegemony of the Zulus under King Dingane had been seriously undermined by the English settlers and the Boers, with the Thukela river becoming the accepted border between the Zulus and the white settlers. This meant that all tribes south of Thukela river fell under government of Natal who was in turn subordinate to the governor of the Cape Colony.

In 1846 Theophilus Shepstone was appointed by the British colonial authorities as diplomatic agent to the Native tribes of Natal. The system of administration Shepstone set up assigned all the African tribes of Natal into six 'locations'. In 1847 the Umlazi Location was gazetted. This location stretched from the Mlazi river to the Mkomazi river.

Of the many tribal areas within the Umlazi Location, one of the largest was the Cele tribal area, which included the strip of land between the Mlazi and the Mbokodweni Rivers. The adjoining tribal area to the south was the Makhanya tribal area.

In line with the christianizing mission of the British empire, parts of the Locations were demarcated as "Mission Reserves". After 1856, a number of mission reserves were demarcated in the Umlazi Location. One of these was the Umlazi Mission Reserve which was granted to the Anglican Church. In fact most of the proclaimed township of Umlazi fell on land that was formerly part of Umlazi Mission Reserve.

The coastal strip separating the Umlazi Mission Reserve from the sea was excluded from Umlazi Location and was awarded to Dick King, who later subdivided his farm "Isipingo" and sold off the portions to various white settlers, all of whom went into sugar farming. Subsequently, the coastal strip became the borough of Isipingo.

In the early 1940's the idea of converting the Umlazi mission reserve into a township was mooted by the government. Cato Manor, the government argued, was a slum and had to go.The nearest place to the south where the Cato Manor residents could find open land was at Umlazi, said the government. This suggestion shocked the residence of Umlazi mission reserve and Advisory Board was united in its condemnation of the idea. Then suddenly it was announced in Parliament in Cape Town that the people of Umlazi had agreed that the mission reserve should be converted into a township. This had the effect of galvanising the mission community into action. Parliament was phoned and the whole matter was put on hold while a delegation from Umlazi was sent to Cape Town to put views of Umlazi residents to Prime Minister Jan Smuts. This delegation consisted of : Mr CCW Nxumalo, Rev AH Zulu, Rev Siveshe, Mr Gideon Mthembu, Mr Bob Nzimande, Mr HP Ngwenya, Mr ZE Maphumulo and Chief Albert Luthuli