May 7, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Wall Street Journal discusses the Haka and the Rubgy World Cup

2 min read is always interested in how international media covers issues in Aoteaora the following as in the Wall Street Journal.

Since 1905, the All Blacks, New Zealands rugby team, has performed a tribal war dance before the start of every international match. But their chanting days may be numbered.

The ancestors of the ancient Maori tribe that created the specific dance the team uses the Ka Mate Haka, or Tis Death, Tis Death want it back.

In the rousing dance, the entire team of 15 players line up on the pitch opposite their rivals and act out a ritual that was once used by fierce Maori tribesmen to celebrate their survival in battle. Other New Zealand sports teams, including the Olympic swimmers, have been known to perform a tribal dance as well (when someone wins a gold medal).

The Ngati Toa tribe, which hails from the southern tip of New Zealands North Island, is locked in talks with the New Zealand Rugby Union, the sports governing body. The tribe is trying to trademark phrases that form part of the song that the rugby players chant when performing the dance, known as the Haka. If the tribe is successful, the Haka as it is known today could disappear from the warm-up of New Zealands famous rugby team for the first time in more than a century.

To be sure, the Ka Mate Haka is one of two war cries used by the All Blacks. But it is arguably the teams best-known dance. It is featured in a high-profile Adidas commercial and will form the rallying cry for the All Blacks when the worlds top teams descend on New Zealand next year for the sports premier event, the World Cup.

The dispute comes at a time when Neweeded 500 million New Zealand dollar (US$369.2 million) shot to the economy. Of course, an All Blacks victory would be a vital part of making the event pay, and New Zealand rugby officials are nervous about the possible loss of such a vital psychological rallying tool ahead of the tournament.

New Zealand Rugby Union spokesman Brian Finn said only that talks are continuing.

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