I find it ironic that a Kiwi of Irish descent chooses to refer to Maori claims to the Waitangi Tribunal as a grievance industry.

The Irish experience under an English invasion and confiscation of lands was near enough identical. And Irish members of government forces expressed sympathy for Maori: "They could be Irish, with their children and potatoes."

Terry O'Connor also reckons if we continue fighting over ownership, we will destroy this nation. I say one nation has already been destroyed here - the Maori nation.

Treaty settlements, exercises in assimilation and social engineering are more of the same old colonial arrogance. So the reality is that Maori have fought, and will continue to fight, for justice. That's all. Nothing more and nothing less.

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That's what my heroes advocated: Te Kooti, Te Whiti, Tohu Kakahi, Titokowaru, Hetaraka Tautahi, T W Ratana and others.

All New Zealanders should be grateful. The Maori people and their descendants are not, and never were, violent savages - just patriots fighting for our rights.

I repeat that old, but very accurate quote: "The first casualty of war is the truth." But there must come a time when the truth is revealed, and that time is overdue.

POTONGA NEILSON, Castlecliff
The Pope on hell

Gwynne Dyer is correct that there is confusion caused by Pope Francis continuing private discussions with 93-year-old journalist Eugenio Scalfari.

Each time Scalfari, who takes no notes, writes an article of what the Pope has supposedly said, the Vatican has to deny the accuracy of some part of it. It seems foolish or scheming of the Pope to continue these meetings.

The latest claim by Scalfari is that the Pope denied the existence of hell, which Dyer says is a heresy. Dyer claims Scalfari's reporting must be accurate since the Pope keeps giving him interviews - thus, the Pope must not believe in the existence of hell.

This would be logical except Dyer left out the many public statements the Pope has made about hell that show he does believe it exists.

Dyer may be right, although that would make Pope Francis a liar, but the Pope's public statements are surely more credible evidence of what he believes than a 93-year-old atheist's "recollection" of a private conversation.

K A BENFELL, Gonville
Abortion debate

John Haakma asserts that the religious position of the Christian vis-a-vis abortion is "that life is sacrosanct", "because God made man in his own image".

The irony of this "Christian/ religious" argument is that this "God imaged" life that is so "sacrosanct" in the womb has been (and still is) wilfully destroyed on a daily basis in wars and sectarian violence often seen or excused as "crusades", especially by the more fundamental and scripture-driven of the various religious involved.

There are many Christians who do not share the absolute mores of Mr Haakma and can bring reason and compassion to their consideration of the abortion debate, and broader perspectives than biblical black and white. That is to say "the empirical method" provides as much "evidence" as is worthy of consideration, and is the only tool available to reason as the "problem" is addressed.

Mr Haakma's "moral absolutism" closes the mind on any exercise of reason. Does it provide, for example, any instance when abortion might be an acceptable moral, medical or modern scientific way of dealing with rape, incest, medical or genetic malformation and so on?

If not, I suggest they have no rational voice in the modern secular world. [Abridged]

RUSS HAY, Whanganui
Fluoridation

In response to the letters from Darrell Grace (March 8) and Chris Price (March 23) on fluoridation:

1) Chris has not referenced his letter properly so I assume he is referring to the 2016 Harvard University publication when he states "fluoridated water is safe". It says: "Health concerns expressed by opponents have largely been dismissed until recently." https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/magazine/magazine_article/fluoridated-drinking-water/

Chris also states: "No quality research states anything of the kind in reference to my claim that 'water fluoridation at .7 ppm causes a range of problems including that it is a neurotoxin."

As stated in my letter of February 23, fluoride accumulates in our bodies as we only excrete 50-60 per cent as adults, and 20 per cent as children. We are also exposed from many sources, including the one dumped in water hydrofluorosilicic acid - classification: Schedule 7 (dangerous poison) Hazchem Class 6 (acutely toxic ) & 8 (corrosive).

The classification of fluoride as a neurotoxin is in a paper in the March 2014 edition of The Lancet Neurology, entitled "Neurobehavioural Effects Of Developmental Toxicity".

2) Darrell states dental fluorosis is "sometimes a mild discolouration of the enamel". This sign of systemic toxicity is prevalent in 41 per cent of NZ children according to the Ministry of Health. [Abridged]

LUCY McDOUGALL, Whanganui