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Dancing With the Stars, of Rugby – New York Times

The New York Times now takes on the Haka and like those before it gets a little confused. This time round mixing one haka – “Ka Mate! Ka Mate! Ka Ora!” with another – “Kapa O Pango” (Team in Black)

The new haka (Kapa O Pango) was developed partly in response to an challenge related to the ownership of “Ka Mate!”. The new war cry was written for the team by Ngati Porou’s Derek Lardelli. The response was immediate. One one side you had the Sth Africans:

“It was fantastic. It’s always awesome to stand in front of the haka,” says South African captain John Smit. “It’s probably one of the most special things about playing the All Blacks.”

On the other you had those offended by the throat slitting motion at the end of the Haka. If they’d taken the time to understand the symbology they might have been less offended. It isn’t about slitting the oponents throats (although one could certainly read that into the motion), it is about releasing the warrior (performing) the Haka’s spirit in battle. Frankly their is a ton of confusion over the gesture, not helped my multiple explanations by the Haka’s composer who once said the motion was intended to describe:

“Playing rugby at this level, with this intensity, is the cutting edge of sport. “The players are on the knife edge. They are gladiators in the arena. If they win they are heroes, if they lose they are taken apart.”

The New York Times cconfuses the issue suggesting that this is what caused the stupid decision by the Welsh Rugby Football Union. It wasn’t that Kapa O Pango was going to be performed. In fact, The All Blacks performed “Ka Mate” which features no such motion.

It was about grandstanding, cultural insensitivity and disrespect that ultimately deprived fans of something they wanted to see.

The Haka is a point of pride and identity on the world stage for all New Zealanders no nation gets to dabble with it at their leisure.

Link to Dancing With the Stars, of Rugby – New York Times (subscription required)

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