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The Black Sox will debut a new haka at the opening of the Softball World Cup in Tāmaki Makaurau today.
The New Zealand men's softball team take on the Czech Republic in the tournament's opening game - live streaming on Whakaata Māori and MĀORI+ - at Rosedale Park on Auckland's North Shore this afternoon and have a special treat for fans - a haka created especially for the seven-time world champions.
Until now, the Black Sox have performed Ngāti Toa haka 'Ka Mate' but courtesy of Israel Hawkins (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Tuwharetoa) and Huia Clayton (Te Arawa) now have a haka of their very own to inspire the team and supporters.
"Israel Hawkins, he came up to a camp we had at Howick ... Came in, talked about some key values that we try and stick behind, which was pride, connection and adaptability," the Black Sox's Thomas Enoka told 1 News.
"He took those things back to his mate Huia, who designs hakas for Matatini, and then he came up with pretty much a haka that resembles everything we talked about, our culture, legacy, all of that."
Enoka told 1 News the team feels "immense pride" performing their new haka.
"There's something about a haka you can draw strength from. Being able to do it at home is another special thing in itself, and even learning it in a marae, getting taught properly."
The Black Sox have been performing Ka Mate for a long time but have mostly had to teach themselves, Enoka says, so this has been a particularly special experience for everyone.
"To learn something for yourself and be taught by a professional it's something even better."