Former England rugby player Matt Dawson has caused controversy by promoting the “Hakarena”, a mock version of the haka. Matt urges English fans to perform the dance throughout the Rugby World Cup to “inspire” the English team. You can see the ‘Hakarena” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlHS_Mn7nWE
This reminds me of the recent debate surrounding former All Black Byron Kelleher naming his French pub, “Haka Corner.” Many people believe that it’s disrespectful to use such a special aspect of Maori culture as a marketing device, especially the promotion of alcohol.
My favourite explanation of the significance of the haka comes fromTiki Edwards, the NZRU’s Maori community manager.
“People think it’s a war challenge, but we never came to the battlefield to tell you that we were here to challenge you,” Tiki says. “We came to kill you.”
“The haka isn’t about the enemy. It’s about us. It’s about opening ourselves up to our ancestors, to their spirits, about filling ourselves with their strengths and gifts.”
One of my favourite haka moments came earlier this year when Richie McCaw led it for the first time. I always hoped Richie would do that one day. As a Pakeha I know it would have taken a real step of bravery to do that.
Read more about the history of the haka in Rugby: The History. Read about the legendary players whose kicking, running, stepping and tackling skills have helped make rugby the great game it is in Rugby: The Players, the Skills and the Style.