July 28, 2006

New haka still a problem: Australian coach John Connolly has criticized New Zealand's use of the Kapa O Pango Haka (which was introduced back in Spetember) but the AB coach reckons its just a smokescreen ahead of their tri-nations test.

posted by Fence to other at 06:57 AM - 14 comments

I'm a fan of the haka, but I dislike the fact that it seems to be compulsory for the opposing team to stand there and watch, doing nothing while the AB's perform it. But I think that Henry is probably right, and Connolly is just stirring. Possibly not a smart move given the first test score.

posted by Fence at 07:01 AM on July 28, 2006

Could Fence or someone else more enlightened than I explain if/how the haka is different from, say, the tomahawk chop that we see in American sporting cultures, or, say, Native American mascots that purportedly "honour" the colonized groups from which they came?

posted by smithers at 08:29 AM on July 28, 2006

I love the haka. It's so... Dramatic.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:37 AM on July 28, 2006

What's a haka? And for that matter,what sport is it in?

posted by sickleguy at 10:56 AM on July 28, 2006

Maybe you should read the article, sickleguy.

posted by wingnut4life at 11:09 AM on July 28, 2006

The haka is not the same at all as the tomahawk chop. First of all, the culture of New Zealand is a lot closer to their native culture than the US has ever been, and secondly, a large percentage of All Blacks players are of Maori descent. They come by the haka honestly. And there's no rule that says the opposing team has to stand and watch them (Tonga throwing it right back at NZ is chilling to watch), but rugby is a sport of who's-more-manly more than maybe any other, and to stand down from the haka is seen as an admission of defeat before the match even begins.

posted by chicobangs at 11:12 AM on July 28, 2006

Smithers, The "enlightened" response to your question would require a lengthy conversation over several pints of beer (we'd have to be careful though, Jack Handy said that if you ever reach total enlightenment while drinking a beer ... it'll make beer shoot out your nose!). An abbreviated (and far more likely leading to an enlightened) response would be to defer to those who have more fully engaged with this topic. Off the top of my head, check out Steve Jackson and Brendan Hokowhitu, "Sport, Tribes, and Technology" in Journal of Sport and Social Issues 26, no.2 (2002): 125-139. I think Jay Scherer might've touched on this also. My own brief response would be to say that at least the haka is a Maori tradition being enacted by a national team on which Maori people have found some measure of equality and respect. Native American mascots and tomahawk chops will inevitably always fall short of this same measure. I was serious about discussing this over beer though, dude ;)

posted by Spitztengle at 12:16 PM on July 28, 2006

Chicobangs I've read somewhere, which I can't now recall of course, and it may be inaccurate, that opposing teams are not allowed to do anything but pay attention to the haka. Although of course this may be one of those unofficial rules. There was something about some French players who simply went about their business warming-up and were followed about by the NZ team. And sickleguy the haka is a cultural Maori war-dance/demonstration used by a lot of NZ teams, although mainly known for the rugby lads. A fair few of the other Polynesian countries also would have the same tradition. Don't know about the tomohawk chop smithers, but the haka is very much a part of Maori/polynesian culture. Also, from what I can remember it's actually pretty hard to find a NZ who doesn't have a drop of Maori blood in them, so it isn't a case of the colonised being exploited.

posted by Fence at 12:26 PM on July 28, 2006

I dunno Spitz... your response seemed pretty freakin' enlightened, and I didn't even shoot beer out of my nose. I would just say that while the Tomahawk Chop might be exploitative and degrading, it's undoubtably goofy and I'd be happy to repeat that to any Braves fan. There is, however, no chance that I'm going to walk up to an All Black prop and tell him he looks goofy doing his team's haka. How's that for a profoundly unenlightened response?

posted by Adam at 01:38 PM on July 28, 2006

My first high school soccer coach grew up playing in Brazil and we had a haka(esk) chant and movements we did during our warm-up laps around the pitch. Very loud and very annoying to our opposition. They pretty much had no choice but to watch because of the chanting/clapping we were doing jogging around the pitch. I can still remember the opposing coaches yelling at their players to pay attention to him not us. Must have worked as we routinely bet teams we had no business playing in the first place.

posted by Folkways at 02:49 PM on July 28, 2006

A few interesting responses to the Haka have been tried. Wales have had the All Blacks do the Haka immediately after the NZ national anthem and respond to the Haka with the Welsh anthem and other patriotic songs. And of course, a few years ago, an Irish player, Brian O'Driscoll consulted with Maoris and who informed him that the proper response was to pick up a blade of grass and through it away, as a mark of respectful acceptance of the challenge. I'm not sure if he was informed properly, since some reports described it as dismissive, and he was the victim of a nasty tackle later in the game which dislocated his shoulder. Still, it was trying a response. So, I don't think there's any rule that you have to "sit and take it", but you can also take it and respond in an way that matches the spirit of the challenge. Also, if you're looking for comedy, find an old tape of the All Blacks from the 70s. The sight of a bunch of white guys with long hair and sideburns doing the Haka is great.

posted by Bulgaroktonos at 07:45 AM on July 29, 2006

Any of the older videos of the hakas are worth a look at, just to see how it has changed. Up until the last 15/20 years it wasn't really taken seriously and half the players looked more embarresed than intimidating.

posted by Fence at 09:01 AM on July 29, 2006

Some of you are missing a huge point. The important difference between the haka and the "tomahawk chop" is that NZ Rugby (and the other national sports teams) have received permission from the traditional owners and guardians of Maori culture to use the haka. Further, the All Black captain does not necessarily lead the haka. That honour is reserved for the memer of the team with the "correct" or most appropriate status within the Maori community. And Fiji, Samoa and Tonga also have similar "calls to arms" as the haka. As chico points out, the response can be equally spine-chilling.

posted by owlhouse at 07:10 PM on July 29, 2006

Thanks for all the assistance on this one, guys. Owlhouse, your points are particularly well taken.

posted by smithers at 10:26 PM on July 29, 2006

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