The All Blacks’ fearsome tribal war cry – the haka – has again been challenged after an Englishman’s “Geordie Haka” became an instant internet sensation.
Interestingly, despite outcry grabbing widespread attention only now, the Arizona Wildcats have been performing the haka for at least three years.
Arizona’s athletic department issued a statement saying the team did not intend to offend anyone.
Arizona has been performing the dance before football games since 2009, when a group of Polynesian players introduced it to share an aspect of their culture and fire up the team.
The version led by Wildcats offensive lineman, Lene Maiava – one of several Polynesian players on the college’s football roster – is the Ka Mate haka, which was composed around 200 years ago. “As a result, we have made a decision to discontinue the activity”.
It’s the use of the Ngāti Toa Rangatira haka, “Ka Mate” which has been etched in to the hearts of many Māori, however, many American universities have taken a shine to it also.
Christina Campbell said that the Wildcats’ performance of the haka clearly showed that they had not been trained in either its symbols, meaning, or cultural significance.
Sharpe says, “we plan to identify alternatives that will provide an outlet for our Polynesian student-athletes to showcase the heritage they are so proud of”. “I think they’ve made a hash of it”. Ngati Toa chair has suggested the latter, and even suggested they would send people to teach them if the university paid.
Dr Campbell, an associate professor of anthropology at California State University Northridge, has lived in Los Angeles since 2000 but has all of her family still in New Zealand and travels home often to visit them.