A few days ago, it was suggested by a long-time and continually unjust critic elsewhere that I harbor disdain for Hispanics. I found this claim unusually offensive, since, among many other things, I have two Hispanic daughters in law and, rather unsurprisingly in that light, some partially Hispanic grandchildren.
Tonight, I saw a claim asserted in the same region of the Internet, quite out of the blue, that my friend and colleague Louis Midgley, who served a youthful mission in New Zealand and then returned there decades later with his wife to direct the LDS Institute of Religion in Auckland, must surely have disdained the brown skinned Maori among whom he served and must have held them in arrogant contempt.
Anybody who knows Louis Midgley or who has ever spoken with him about Aotearoa, “the Land of the Long White Cloud,” will instantly recognize the baseless (and, for that matter, the base) falsehood of this allegation, and I’m going to use my podium here to rebut it right now. I spent substantial time traveling in New Zealand with the Midgleys when they were serving there, and I know at first hand the deep affection that Professor Midgley feels for the Maori — and the deep affection that scores and scores of Maori feel for him.
At my request, although he had no idea why I asked for it, Professor Midgley shared with me a list of his publications about the Maori of his beloved New Zealand. I share it here:
Essays by Louis Midgley on the faith of Maori Latter-day Saints
- “A Singular Reading: The Maori and the Book of Mormon,” in Mormons, Scripture and the Ancient World: Studies in Honor of John L. Sorenson (Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1998), 245-276.
- “A Maori View of the Book of Mormon,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies8/1 (1999): 4–11, 77.
- “Maori Latter-day Saint Faith: Some Preliminary Remarks,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 8 (2014): 45-65.
- “The Maori Stairway to Heaven,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship12 (2014): 97-110.
- Review of Marjorie Newton’s Tiki and Temple, in the Journal of Mormon History 40/1 (2014): 253–256.
- “Remembering and Honoring Maori Latter-day Saints,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 21 (2016): 275-290.
- “Marjorie Newton on ‘The Mormons in Australia’ — A Retrospective Review, Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 27 (2017): 143-154.
- “Marjorie Newton’s Account of the Faith of the Maori Saints: A Critical Appraisal,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 30 (2018): 179-206.
- “The Maori Latter-day Saint Historical Narrative: Additions and Amendments,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 32 (2019): 199-228.
If there is anybody out there who is interested in learning how Dr. Midgley feels about the Maori, these articles make it clear beyond reasonable dispute. And they’re also very interesting and valuable in their own right.
In addition to the items mentioned above, I call attention to remarks delivered by the Maori historian and legal scholar Dr. Robert Joseph, a professor at New Zealand’s University of Waikato, at the Interpreter Foundation’s fifth birthday party on 5 August 2017. They were entitled “Maori Responses to the Mormon Church.” If you listen carefully to his minute-long Maori-language opening comment, you will be able to discern that, among other things, they honored “Elder Midgley” and “Louis,” to whom he later referred, in English, as “Uncle Louis”: