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Tradition Matters. Culture Matters More.

The Haka is something most American’s haven’t had a chance to experience. It’s something to see.

While a recent headliine in the WSJ described it as a Tongan war dance the article did go on to reference it as a Maori war dance in fact – made popular by The All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team. A Tongan war dance is known as The Kailao but this again is different than and should not be confused with the Sipi Tau, performed by the ‘Ikale Tahi’, the national rugby union team before each match.

It is pretty impressive as well but very different. Both the Haka and Ikale Tahi would be performed the moment before each game, before the teams "go into battle" – that’s the symbology. Take a look at this to see both in action.

"Ka Mate! Ka Mate! Ka Ora!" (We’re going to die! We’re going to die! We’re going to live!), has nothing to do with Tonga – the Odessa Permian Panthers are in fact taking a leaf out of the All Blacks who perform the Haka before games.

As insulting to any Kiwi as The Wall Street Journal headline was, the Welsh Rugby Football Union insulted us more this morning by requiring the All Blacks to move the Haka to another stage of the pregame entertainment.

I’ll go as far as to accuse them of racial insensitivity and ignorance. It isn’t about entertainment. All Blacks’ captain Richie McCaw said it best, " “The tradition needs to be honored properly if we’re going to do it,” said McCaw. 

“If the other team wants to mess around, we’ll just do the Haka in the shed.  At the end of the day, Haka is about spiritual preparation and we do it for ourselves. Traditionally fans can share the experience too and it’s sad that they couldn’t see it today,” he said.

At the end of the day the All Blacks did the Haka – those of use watching the came on the web got to witness the weird spectacle while 70,000 fans could do little more than boo the absence of a mighty tradition – and then watch as the All Blacks destroyed Europe’s five nations champions 45-10. Back at’cha. A shame for Welsh spectators. A win nevertheless for All Blacks fans.

One Response

  1. By Alex James on November 30th, 2006 at 11:57 am

    You don’t think we are just a bit too precious about the Haka do you? My understanding is that the Welsh simply wanted to respond to the Haka in that very traditional welsh manner, singing!

    They understood they were entitled to respond, we nit picked somewhat by saying you have to respond in kind… i.e. with a war dance? It’s a bit precious of us to think that the only response to our traditional challenge is another traditional challenge, what if there is no traditional challenge? Then no-one can respond? Seems a little unfair….

    And by the way I am an All Black supporter through and through and remain concerned that we will again be the best team in the world between world cups!

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