A UK men’s fashion retailer has turned the All Black’s famed haka into a camp version of the macarnea and, hardly unsurprisingly, sent Maori traditionalists into a tizz over what they believe is a highly disrespectful parody.
With the Rugby World Cup to start in the UK this Friday, the fashion brand, Jacamo, decided on a little fun and enlisted English rugby legend and 2003 World Cup winner Matt Dawson to front the campaign called the ‘hakarena’. Dawson is backed by portly players from local British rugby team, the Battersea Ironsides.
However, the stunt’s not gone down well in New Zealand, where the haka is revered by the Maori.
Sir Pita Sharples, former co-leader of the Maori Party, said the stunt was insulting a tradition that goes back to 1888 when a touring Kiwi team first performed it at a match in the UK.
“The haka is done as a way of honouring the enemy,” Sharples said. “You don’t do it in those sorts of circumstances — you do it if you’re up for a challenge.
“By doing a haka as the All Blacks do, it’s recognising the worth of the other side. So if they’re doing something to mock the haka, I think that’s pretty shameful.
“The haka is very meaningful to us. To actually mimic it and deliberately bring it into ridicule is, to me, insulting,” he said.
However, Jacamo has questioned all the fuss, saying the ad is clearly about having a bit of fun and not intended to cause offence. The brand said it “acknowledges the sheer might of the reigning champions while having a bit of a giggle”.
Even rugby loving Kiwis have got the joke with All Black great Keven Mealamy calling it “actually quite funny”.
But not so, Sir Pita, who has said that Kiwis and Maoris living in the UK or visiting for the World Cup could be justifiably upset by the spoof. “The Maoris and New Zealanders in London could react to that big time,” he warned.