THE MAORI STILL FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
Anatol Lieven [“Frontier Injustice,” Oct. 31] paints a totally different view of the Maori from that of many New Zealand historians (Ranganui Walker, Struggle Without End; Alan Ward, Unsettled History; Claudia Orange, An Illustrated History of the Waitangi Treaty; Michael King, Being Pakeha Now).
The colonial government did not honor the Waitangi Treaty of 1840. The treaty allowed the pakeha (white settlers) use of the land in return for helping the Maori develop economically. But that didn’t happen. Instead the Maori had to go to war for almost thirty years to protect themselves. The colonial government pointed its guns at the Maori rather than protecting them, as Lieven claims, from English settlers. When the Maori organized and named Te Wherowhero their king in 1858, the government seized more land from them.
With hardly any fertile land left, the Maori were in an impoverished state by the 1930s. Many sought jobs in urban areas where the white population was. Their educated children have continued their ancestors’ fight to make the pakeha honor the Treaty of Waitangi. The road to where the Maori are today was not as smooth as Lieven painted it. It is true that the Maori are “a powerful, growing…section of New Zealand society.” But this is due not to British benevolence but to the fighting spirit of the Maori people for justice.
I certainly wouldn’t suggest that the treatment of the Maori was just or generous–far from it. It was, however, vastly more so than the treatment of the Cherokee and the other “civilized tribes”–and this is demonstrated by the relative positions of the indigenous peoples of New Zealand and of the American South today.
THE STONES SPEAK THEIR NAMES
I recently had the same experience here in Berlin that Arthur Danto had in Cologne [“Mute Point,” Oct. 17]. Walking in my neighborhood, I noticed two 10×10 cm brass plaques embedded in the cobblestone sidewalk in front of Landauer Str. 3, engraved with the information that Paul and Minna Grünfeld had lived there and that they were deported and murdered by the Nazis in 1941. Interested to learn more, I Googled their names and quickly found the locations of about forty more memorial plaques in my area and a link to www.stolpersteine.com, the website for Stolpersteine (“stumbling blocks”). I learned that this admirable project was begun by artist Günter Demnig in 1996 and that he has so far placed some 5,500 plaques in ninety-seven German municipalities. The sites are self-selected; current residents can memorialize their victimized predecessors for 95 euros.