Walter Sisulu University player perform the Kapa o Pango haka ahead of their Varsity Shield game against Durban University of Technology at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane on Monday. Photo: Catherine Kotze/Varsity Cup
Walter Sisulu University player perform the Kapa o Pango haka ahead of their Varsity Shield game against Durban University of Technology at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane on Monday. Photo: Catherine Kotze/Varsity Cup

All Blacks’ haka is part of our team culture, says WSU captain Litha Nkula

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Apr 14, 2021

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CAPE TOWN – After coming in for some criticism for performing the All Blacks’ haka before their Varsity Shield games, Walter Sisulu University skipper Lithe Nkula has explained why they do it.

While New Zealand Rugby had no issues with the haka performed by the team, a lot of people felt it was disrespectful to Maori culture and was akin to cultural expropriation.

However, Nkula has explained what the haka means to the team.

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“When I arrived at WSU, our late coach Sipho Metula told us stories about how this team got to mobilise and use New Zealand rugby players as icons within the team,” Nkula said in an interview with VarsityCup.co.za.

Former player Yanga Wani first proposed the idea of performing a haka as a way to motivate the team, but it was originally done as a post-match celebration.

The Walter Sisulu University Varsity Shield rugby team performed the haka before smashing the DUT Rhinos. Picture: Catherine Kotze/Varsity Cup

“The players wanted to bring in the haka because they admired the way the All Blacks play. The players took the initiative to try and understand why the All Blacks do it.

“We chose the haka because of the style of rugby that we play. We hold ourselves to the standard of New Zealand rugby, we want to play like them. The haka entertains us but also brings that seriousness before a game.

“It has become part of our culture. We explain to new players that come in why it is done and how it influences us as a team. That’s why we feel that we can’t play without it; it’s part of our team culture, even though we adopted it from New Zealand.”

Nkula makes it clear that they mean no disrespect to the All Blacks by performing their haka.

“We’re doing it in a respectful manner and trying to bring confidence to our players. We would have done something else but because of the way that it has influenced us as a team, it’s not something we want to change.”

An NZR spokesperson told Newshub despite its intellectual property being imitated, as long as the haka was performed with respect and understanding, as in the case with WSU, there was no issue.

IOL Sport

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