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Bledisloe Cup: All Blacks Haka Always Invokes The Gods Of War

By Peter Lalanabaravi Created: October 14, 2010 Last Updated: October 15, 2010
Related articles: Sports » Rugby
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AUSTRALIA VS. NEW ZEALAND - 2008 HK BLEDISLOE CUP: The All Blacks perform the Haka Ka Mate Ka Mate before the Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies at the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium on November 1, 2008.  ( Mark Weekley-Pool/Getty Images)

AUSTRALIA VS. NEW ZEALAND -- 2008 HK BLEDISLOE CUP: The All Blacks perform the Haka Ka Mate Ka Mate before the Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies at the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium on November 1, 2008. ( Mark Weekley-Pool/Getty Images)

Like Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan, the All Black rugby union side transcends sport.

Firstly, they are usually the No. 1 team in the world.

Secondly, they have a spirit that stands outside the ordinary world; a spirit that is defined in a traditional Maori medium, the “haka” or war dance.

Haka Creation

What other team dances?

And these “dancers” bring the past into the modern world. They are like the Shaolin or the Samurai—except the All Blacks tour. And compete.

The Ka Mate haka was written by Te Rauparaha, an ancient war chief of the Ngati Toa tribe. One story has it that the chief wrote the haka while hidden in an under-ground food pit, over which was placed stays, then a mat, upon which a woman sat.

The chief’s pursuing enemies were fooled, and continued on. Yet, the great chief had hidden beneath a woman, both literally and figuratively, which many considered a fate worse than death.

While the haka is entertaining, it’s not just entertainment. It’s living history, drawn from the mists of time. In fact, you can see the All Blacks drawing the energy of the ancestors down into their bodies.

Kapa o Pango

If that’s not enough, the All Blacks players wrote their own haka, called Kapa o Pango, which is used rarely, at the players’ choosing. The great captain, Tana Umaga, led the haka when it was unveiled against the Springboks in 2005. Boks players said they were honored by the gesture.

The Wallabies tried to have it banned as too violent. That’s part of the recent history between these two sides. To paraphrase Muhammad Ali, they get it on ’cause they don’t get along.

Umaga can be viewed leading the 2005 Kapa o Pango on Youtube. But be warned, if you watch it, you will want to buy tickets to the All Black–Wallaby match on Oct. 30.

South Africa Tour Criticism and Democratic Reform

Part of the All Blacks appeal, is that they consistently had black players, mostly Maori, when most other sides were Caucasian. To that extent, the conservative All Blacks were leading the rugby-playing nations into the modern, multi-cultural world.

The one nation that objected was South Africa, during apartheid, the former policy of racial segregation. Maori players were banned from touring South Africa, then given “honorary white” immigration status. New Zealand was criticized for playing sport with a then racist South Africa.

Nevertheless, because of the importance of rugby in South Africa, the All Blacks were a force for democratic reform; the countries are long-standing rugby rivals, with a history of memorable clashes.

This sporting closeness brought an exchange of ideas. The All Black persona is always a melding of the past and the present, the history of the haka and the immediacy of sporting victory. This represents sporting excellence plus something intangible.

How did marketing experts come up with this unique concept? The answer is, they didn’t. The All Blacks are more culture than product. There have been attempts to re-brand the All Blacks, to modernize them, but public outrage in New Zealand ended that.

This only adds to the untouchable aura of the All Blacks.

Continued on the next page…





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