Whenever there was talk of fighting in the North Auckland country—the old martial spirit burned up now and again long after the wars—Mr. Gittos, then the head of Wesleyan Maori Missions in North Auckland and Waikato, hurried to the spot to do what he could in the cause of peace. His mana
was great to the last. In 1898, when Hone Toia, and his hapu,
the Mahurehure, of the Waima, Hokianga, rose in an armed protest against the pakeha
laws that affected them, I saw “Te Kitohi”
at his peace-making work. He went to meet a war-party, stripped and armed, that made a threatening demonstration against Rawene township, and he addressed them as foolish children; and told them that they could not hope to influence the Government in that way; to resort to arms was to incite Government action that would ruin their tribe. They reverenced him as the friend of their parents and grand parents; his face and voice called up sacred memories. Though Hone Toia, the chief and soothsayer, persisted in his rebellion, until Hone Heke, the Northern Maori member of Parliament, at last induced him to surrender to the Government force at Waima, it was Mr. Gittos's influence and counsel that helped greatly to prevent a tragic little war. On many occasions before and after that Hokianga incident I talked with “Te Kitohi” about the Maori, past, present and future, and came to understand why the people everywhere, even the Waikato—always grieving over the arbitrary confiscation of their best lands—held him in such affectionate regard and respect. He approached them as a friend who could feel as a Maori and enter into their thoughts and sorrows and joys. He was not forever scolding and preaching at them; he could discuss their tribal and family problems, and advise them
“Wesley Dale,” the pioneer Mission Station at Kaeo, Whangaroa.
(From a sketch in 1827.)
in all their troubles. His spirit of helpfulness to the new settlers in North Auckland was in keeping with his lifelong work for the betterment of his adopted people, the Maori.