Haka ban part of UK/New Zealand trade deal - What is the Haka? How did it come to be used by the All Blacks?

As part of the new trade deal between the UK and New Zealand, a clause now states it is “offensive cultural appropriation” to perform the Haka if you’re not Maori.

The surprise clause was reportedly pushed forward by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, due to allegations of cultural appropriation in the UK.

New Zealand’s rugby team, the All Blacks, have been performing the Haka for years pre-game and Ka Mate – written in 1820 – is now protected by a clause so it can’t be used commercially and will remain somewhat exclusive for those who are of Maori heritage.

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So, what is the Haka and why is it performed?

The Haka is primarily a traditional Maori war dance and was usually performed by Maori warriors on a battlefield.

Despite being somewhat intimidating before a rugby game, it signifies strength and unity within a tribe, as well as being used to show importance to an occasion.

Co-leader of the Maori party, Rawiri Waititi said that the new protections should be welcomed, when speaking to the New Zealand Herald.

Whenever the Haka is being performed, the opposition usually stand in an embrace and watch it, reminiscent of a minute’s silence pre-match at the football, or the usual stance a team adopts when enduring a penalty shootout.

In 2019, England went for a unique shape, forming a V shape, which they were subsequently fined for but only for being past the half-way line before the game had started. Captain Owen Farrell, who was guilty of being the man past the halfway line, also grinned and winked during the performance.

England rugby chiefs have insisted despite the new regulations surrounding the Haka, it would not impact the players’ behaviour on the pitch.

The new trade deal is said to be worth around £2.3 billion per year, and will make things such as Manuka honey and kiwi fruits cheaper to buy in the UK.