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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

UTU for those who lost lives on 9/11

"UTU" headlined the Dominion Post of Wellington, New Zealand, this morning, possibly the most unusual banner to commemorate a world-shaking event.

Utu, which means something along the lines of revenge or satisfaction for a wrong, was (and often is) one of the more important elements in Maori life.  It is such an eloquent concept, that like the words mana and tapu, it has entered the English language as spoken in New Zealand.

Maori believed passionately in the concept of an eye for an eye, or tooth for a tooth, and would not rest until honor was satisfied.

Where a tribal member had been murdered, utu had to be paid in blood, an ethic that contributed hugely to the reputation of the Maori as a warrior people. 

On the other hand, it ensured that justice was done, and prevented wanton contempt of law, order, and the rights and dignity of others.

See: Taonga Tuku Iho, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Maori Life by A.W. Reed, revised by Buddy Mikaere. New Holland Publishers, 2002.

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