Sport | Germany

Taekwondo fighters perform haka at world champs

Photo source: SportsMartialArts, Facebook

New Zealand athletes at the Taekwondo World Championships have performed a haka to represent their team, families and their history with the sport.

The 49 members of the New Zealand team, made up of individuals of European, Māori, Pacific Island and Indian descent, performed the haka Ngā Kaponga at the competition in Inzell, Germany last week.

The team's manager, Nathan Bowden, says the haka was composed by Sergeant Major Brent Pene from the New Zealand Army.  The team learned the haka during a training camp in Waiouru.

Haka as performed by the New Zealand ITF team #itf2019 #sportmartialarts #welovethissport #haka

Posted by on Saturday, April 27, 2019

It begins with the command 'tuohu', to bow the head, recognising all those past and present that have assisted with one's journey.

It then goes to acknowledge the start of the day, to prepare mentally, physically and spiritually.

The Māori Gods, Tāwhirimatea, Tūmatauenga, Maui and Rongo are referred to throughout the haka.

“The time we spent learning the haka at the Ngāti Tumatauenga marae was special, to say the least," says Bowden.

“After being welcomed onto the marae and learning about the marae itself, the team now had a permanent home there.  We had a real grounding to start the team’s identity and collective culture.”

Photo source: SportsMartialArts, Facebook

Bowden says the team has not only embraced the haka but the name.

“Ngā Kaponga is the name of the haka but also now the name of our team," he says.

“This is embedded in our team now, with our haka, branded on our team uniforms and of course reinforced in the unity we experience in learning and performing our haka.”

Taekwondo World Championships

The New Zealand team came third overall in the competition of 60 nations and over 2,000 competitors.

Ashley Porter of Auckland won bronze in sparring.  Bowden was the only individual from the team who won a sparring medal this year, her first time at the competition.

Tamara Ruaporo Ngatuakana, from Pōneke, won silver in individual patterns at her first time competing there as well.

Janae Whakarau, from Levin, also won gold in the individual power test.