Event's haka demeans Maori tradition

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 March, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 March, 2002, 12:00am
 

As New Zealanders now living and working in Hong Kong, my husband and I have anticipated the Hong Kong Sevens with great enthusiasm. This anticipation was soured greatly when we read in your sports pages that a group of Chinese scholarship rugby players performed a haka prior to the draw ('HK given rough deal for sevens showpiece,' South China Morning Post, February 27).


Traditionally the haka was a challenge by Maori warriors prior to battle, the purpose being to intimidate the opposition and proclaim the participants' strength and bravery. As is well known the haka has become a feature of the All Blacks pre-match ritual. It is appropriate for New Zealand's own team to use the haka as a pre-match challenge to the opposing team. This is within the spirit of Maori tradition, and is undertaken with pride and respect for the culture from which it stems.


However, this does not mean the haka is synonymous with all aspects of rugby. Nor does it give licence to any other group with connections to rugby to take the haka out of context and demean it by using it as a performance purely for entertainment purposes. This demonstrates complete disregard for the cultural significance it has for those of us who are proud to call ourselves New Zealanders. It is in fact offensive to us. I wonder what the reaction would be if in New Zealand the lion dance was used in a similar manner.


I trust the Rugby Club and the Hong Kong Sevens organising committee will think carefully before disregarding other people's cultural sensitivity.


DAWN IRVIN


Ap Lei Chau


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