The Springboks are being immersed in Maori history in a rainy ceremony on the banks of a central North Island lake.

They are being hosted by Ngati Tuwharetoa and Ngati Hikairo at Opotaka, where the now famous Ka Mate haka was first performed by the warrior chief, Te Rauparaha, as he fled his pursuers.

The site is on the banks of Lake Rotoaira, near Turangi.

As they were welcomed on, South African coach Peter de Villiers accepted a carved piece from a warrior in a sign of a traditional peaceful welcome, before a haka rang out.

A number of players have their families with them.

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  • ALSO: Haka losing respect – Springboks coach

    The haka is in danger of losing respect because it is performed too often, Springboks coach Peter de Villiers says.

    Amid torrential rain, the outspoken rugby coach was welcomed to Opotaka, said to be the birthplace of Ka Mate, yesterday by Lake Taupo iwi Ngati Tuwharetoa.

    De Villiers and the 70-strong Springbok touring party were given a rousing welcome in pouring rain by 50 Tuwharetoa warriors performing the famous haka, said to be composed by Te Rauparaha 200 years ago as he sought shelter from a war party.

    “It has new meaning to me now,” de Villiers said afterwards.

    “We understand where it originated from and we understand it brings something deep down out of people who know what it is all about.

    “For me, about the World Cup especially, there is too many haka around. It is unique to me, and it is losing its intensity but that is only me.

    “People are becoming so used to it, it is not a novelty anymore and they don’t respect it.”

    When performed as it was when the defending world champs were welcomed to Opotaka, it had immense value but that was cheapened by overuse in sports scenarios.

    “Today, it was really deep down and you could feel everybody was part of it, you could understand why they do it.”

    Flash mob haka have been a feature of the Rugby World Cup so far, including one at Sylvia Park in Auckland that has scored hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, and performances in Wellington’s Lambton Quay and outside Te Papa.

    In Australia, senior constable Rangi Joseph a New Zealander was disciplined after he joined a flash mob haka at a Surfer’s Paradise shopping mall while on duty.

    Ngati Toa has staged an interactive haka exhibition at Te Papa explaining the inception of Ka Mate, and this year signed a confidential agreement with the New Zealand Rugby Union allowing the All Blacks to continue performing its haka.

    Ngati Toa spokeswoman Jennie Smeaton told The Dominion Post she thought the increase in the haka being performed, both locally and internationally, was brilliant and “awesome” because it was identified as uniquely Kiwi.

    She did not agree the haka was suffering from over-exposure.

    “He [De Villiers] likes to make controversial statements, we all know that.

    “I think a comment like that is someone who has a lack of understanding or just doesn’t know.

    “Maybe he doesn’t want it done because it’s intimidating.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/5646265/Haka-losing-respect-Springboks-coach