The Roar
The Roar

Advertisement

Opinion

The haka's increasing importance

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
Replay
Cancel
Next
Roar Guru
14th November, 2021
243
2112 Reads

It seems every time the All Blacks cross the equator, and often when they don’t, some journo looks to make a name for himself by having a shot at haka while simultaneously demonstrating all the personal ignorance that comes with making such ‘observations’.

This time the Telegraph UK let one of their number loose on the subject and opinion writer at the UK Sunday Times, the bile duct personification himself, again flapped his gums in usual self-important fashion on the paper’s weekly rugby podcast on the subject.

What doesn’t appear to hit home to these individuals is just how out of touch they are with the real world.

Since Buck Shelford reinstated the pride and connection of the haka with the All Blacks, the progress of New Zealand in recognising and acknowledging its Maori history has made enormous strides.

Far from perfect we all accept, but we are at last on the right path. What a pleasure it is to hear the national anthem ring out in both English and Te Reo at a rugby match and we have long dispensed with the need for the Te Reo version to be up on the big screen for people to follow.

My sons have grown up more offshore than on, but fewer things make me prouder than them belting out the anthem in both languages on Test day.

I am sure we all remember Buck Shelford taking his team deep into opposition territory back in 1989 to share the haka with Welsh side Newport who thought it a better idea to cower forty metres away rather than to take the chance of what would have been a once in a lifetime experience for many of their number.

Later that day Buck collected three teeth from one of his opposites while the home tighthead departed with a nose broken in two places to add to a thumping on the scoreboard – karma eh?

Richie McCaw’s All Blacks doing the haka in their own dressing room back in 2006, as the WRU again tried to play silly buggers, should have turned the light on for many that the haka was becoming something of real cultural significance to the All Blacks, and through them, for many New Zealanders.

Advertisement

But those are actions of the past, there is more than enough evidence this year alone that the naysayers on this subject should stay firmly in their little narrow boxes.

Callum Sheedy, Welsh international, who was excluded from selection by the Welsh Test being outside the Test window, was on a podcast in the run up to that game lamenting that he would not have the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream to face the New Zealand haka.

The game against the United States further showed how revered the haka remains.

I have no idea who the player in the picture is, I did try to identify him, but no photos on their web page, but here is a guy who is realising a dream, he gets to play against the All Blacks and face the haka.

No matter that he has about as much chance of success on the day as Leonadis and his mates at Thermopylae. I for one loved his genuine emotional response to his situation, and how good that an attempt by some in the press to pillar this response as disrespectful, quickly fizzled.

Advertisement

Added to this, before the haka, American captain, Bryce Campbell, lay an American Eagles jersey with the number 11 and the surname Wainui before the All Black and the tribute was accepted by the All Black captains for the day.

If there was a better vehicle for acknowledging the recent passing of Maori All Black Sean Wainui, I sure as hell can’t think of it. It was a wonderful moment.

I will add a family anecdote to what the All Black/haka combination means to people around the world. My eldest son was at the game with his partner.

She is American, a rugby player of some ability having played University code both in the States and Australia and is as passionate about the game as anyone you would like to meet.

We were sent a photo of her, just before kick-off, in floods of tears, as the reality of seeing the haka and All Blacks live for the very first time hit home. You can’t commercialise or create reactions like that.

And is there a better way to be welcomed to Dublin than by this haka from the Together Academy, a school for students with Down Syndrome. Please take the time to view, this is absolutely brilliant.

The guy in the red hat in the front row is Ben, whose dream it was to do this, and his mate, front right of the screen, is Harry, who gives the perfect example of how to commit to the haka.

Have a quick flick through the Twitter comments to see how positively this was received. Not a bad way to make a connection eh?

Advertisement

Anyone other than a couple of myopic colonialists still think we should be scrapping this?

Earlier this year I posted a video of the New Plymouth Boys High School First XV haka, accompanied by the entire school on the hill beside the ground and its worth another look.

I defy anyone to watch this without the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. The boys on the hill and the opposition response are just amazing. This is real grassroots connection for me and it’s so important.

Normally when our former colonial masters have a shot about this, we tend to respond with quips about choosing Morris Dancers to come out front and represent them and clearly that’s not fair.

There must be something Roman, Norse or French from the centuries of rule and occupation of the Isles that would be appropriate, perhaps spend some time giving that some thought.

Sports opinion delivered daily 

   

Advertisement
close