It may have generated more than half a million views on Facebook, but a haka performed by a US high school football team has also angered many Kiwis who believe it’s inappropriate.
The 35-second video, posted on the Facebook group Funny Tongan Memes/Vines, shows Middleton High School’s football team in Idaho performing its version of the haka.
However although it reaped 669,000 views and 4,729 shares, it also was heavily criticised here over whether it was fitting for an American high school team to perform the traditional Māori war dance.
The haka was first performed at Middleton’s spring camp in 2011 when players asked assistant coach Harland Ah You – who previously lived in Hawaii and his family is of Samoan descent – to teach it to them, the Idaho Statesman reports.
“He asked them why and they replied, ‘Because it is cool'”, Middleton head coach Bill Brock said.
“He told them he would not teach it to them if they only wanted to do it because it is cool, but if they wanted to learn what the haka is and what it represents, he would teach it to them.”
Ah You emphasised that he tried to get across to his players the importance of respecting themselves and others, which he reiterated was an important lesson concerning the haka.
“It’s not about sticking your tongue out or stamping your feet. It’s about respect,” he said.
However this was not good enough for many New Zealanders who reacted angrily to the video on Facebook and thought it lacked respect for the Māori culture.
‘I would give them props for giving it a go if they went about it the right way: meaning, learning from a Maori who could show them the history of haka, how to pronounce the words properly, the meaning of words & actions and the significance of it,’ Kaycee Lawrence from Auckland commented.
Nadia Wharerau from Hamilton believed it was also disrespectful to her culture.
“I can’t stand when people do this to my culture! How about instead on focusing on someone else’s culture and disrespecting it, cause you obviously have no idea what any of it means, focus on your own cultures, or the ones of your Country,” Wharerau wrote.
And not all of those were from New Zealand who were angry about the haka. Chyrial Camacho from Honolulu in Hawaii said “this is what happens when America has no culture of their own to express!”.
“They try to mimic another culture but it’ll never hold the same meaning as it would if Polynesians were performing it. I wonder if they even know what the meaning of this haka is,” Camacho said.