The Walter Sisulu University Varsity Shield rugby team performed the haka before smashing the DUT Rhinos. Picture: @varsityshield via Twitter.
The Walter Sisulu University Varsity Shield rugby team performed the haka before smashing the DUT Rhinos. Picture: @varsityshield via Twitter.

Mixed reaction in New Zealand to Walter Sisulu University’s Varsity Shield haka

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Apr 14, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - While the All Blacks have no problem with the Walter Sisulu University rugby team performing the 'Kapa o Pango' haka, many New Zealanders have slammed the Varsity Shield team for being “very disrespectful” to Maori culture.

Newshub.co.nz reported that New Zealand Rugby has no issues with a rendition of the iconic haka by East London's WSU, who also also knows as the “All Blacks”.

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WSU have been using the haka, a Maori ceremonial war dance, for many years, but a video of them performing the 'Kapa o Pango', which the New Zealand All Blacks perform before big rugby Test matches, before a Varsity Shield match against the DUT Rhinos went viral.

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

However, the nzherald.co.nz reported that many ordinary New Zealanders believe this “is an insult to Maori culture”.

"As a Kiwi this is really in poor taste. The Haka belongs to the Maori people. Very disrespectful by this team to think it's okay to use it for themselves," one fan wrote on Facebook.

"In my opinion it is extremely disrespectful and unacceptable! As a South African it was a absolute privilege facing the Haka on a school rugby tour to New Zealand. It is a tradition of the Kiwis and no one should be replicating it," wrote another.

"It's an insult to Māori people of NZ, and it's poorly done," said another fan.

Other social media users believe WSU must come up with their own pre-match ritual.

"No, no, no! This is embarrassing, there's more than enough cultures in SA to pick inspiration from if they wanted a traditional way to offer the challenge," one user commented.

While another wrote: "Could have performed a Zulu dance rather, that's more traditional. Haka is not South African."

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