Regional | Māori

Te Tai Tokerau Māori Rugby supports Poua haka

“I certainly don’t want to be having this same conversation when my daughter is playing rugby,”

Te Tai Tokerau Māori Rugby chairperson Mike Te Wake has strongly rejected the treatment received by the Hurricanes Poua team following their performance of their haka.

Last week, the side faced backlash from management and MPs over the start of their haka, which laid down a challenge to the government and expressed the feelings of the players about the political climate.

The haka’s references to a “redneck government” and the mixing of politics and sports left some critics arguing whether what was said was an appropriate issue to address on the sports field.

Haka is a challenge

“Our haka are composed to be challenging, riveting, and political. There are infinite topics that are expressed through haka, including iwi challenging other iwi, land issues, water rights, drugs and alcohol, storytelling, and many more topics.

“We support the Hurricanes Poua and their appropriate use and performance of the haka. Haka is not tokenistic; it is passionate; it is emotional; it is provocative; and it challenges issues pertinent to the time,” says Mike.

In the haka the team performs, it says, “Aotearoa maranga mai rā, anei a Huruhurutearangi. Whatungarongaro te kāwana, toitū Te Tiriti, toitū Poua.”, “Aotearoa rise up, here is Huruhurutearangi (Māori goddess of wind). Governments are temporary, Te Tiriti will endure; Poua will endure.”

The team removed the words’ kāwana kakī whero, which have been interpreted as a reference to the “redneck government.”

Te Wake says, “We, Tai Tokerau Māori Rugby Board, stand in solidarity with the Poua team and support them in their quest to use haka to raise issues important to us all.”

“We also implore other rugby governing bodies to seek support and access to adequate cultural support when making significant cultural decisions.”

“It is unfortunate that many who are saying what, when, and how haka can be performed are not our people. The interpretations and discussion being about our haka are out of context.”

“I certainly don’t want to be having this same conversation when my daughter is playing rugby,”