Controversy sparked over pre-game Haka

RANUI HARMER

The traditional Ka Mate Haka being performed before a rugby game. Photo: Wikipedia

The traditional Ka Mate Haka being performed before a rugby game. Photo: Wikipedia

Calls to ban New Zealand’s Haka before sporting games have emerged after a fiery clash in the final between Australia and New Zealand’s under-20s.

Rugby league heads have criticised Australia’s “disrespectful” response to the traditional pre-match ritual after the two teams had to be separated before the game had begun.

The Haka was originally a war dance performed to motivate the warriors psychologically to fight and intimidate the opposition.

Te Rauparaha, war leader of the Ngati Toa tribe, composed the “ka mate” haka in 1820.

The Haka received controversial responses in the past with the Australian rugby team famously turning their back on the Haka during a 1996 Bledisloe Cup clash in Wellington.

In recent years, the International Rugby Board ruled that the team facing the Haka must stay at least 10 meters from the halfway line.

Ex-rugby coach and New Zealander Eddie Harmer said the Haka is an expression of cultural pride.

“The Haka is incredibly important to both Maoris and New Zealanders, on top of that, it’s what fans expect to see when they go to game,” Mr Harmer said.

“Haka’s are not always done to threaten violence, they are used to welcome and to celebrate.

“Aboriginals have their own version of a Haka as do the other Polynesian Islands. I think anyone wanting to ban the Haka is just ignorant of other cultures and what it means to them.”

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