Utu is a Maori word. If asked, I would have defined utu as revenge for wrong doings. I’m sort of right, but when I double-checked the definition, I discovered it means much more.
According the the NZ History site, utu is maintaining the balance and harmony within society. Each wrong needs to be put right, but the method of correcting the balance to obtain harmony again varies. And this is where revenge steps right up to the plate!
An example – If the balance within a tribe or between tribes was upset, one form of utu was muru. Muru is where personal property is seized in lieu or compensation for the offence. The matter was then considered resolved.
However, if this didn’t work, then a tribe might carry out a taua, which was a hostile expedition or a straight out war. There were different levels of taua.
Taua muru – a bloodless plundering
Taua ngaki mate/taua roto – violent action
So there you have it – the ins and outs of utu.
In the fictional sense, I think revenge makes for an exciting plot full of twists and turns. One of my favorite types of plot to write.
Do you like revenge plots?