Sport | Rugby

Chiefs Manawa now in spotlight about wording of pre-match haka

Te Ao Māori principles are integrated in our club’s strategy and an important part of our Chiefs culture.

A second Super Rugby franchise has found itself at the centre of questions around the wording of the pre-match haka.

The Hurricanes franchise has told members of its Poua team they cannot repeat the haka used last Saturday which called the coalition government a “redneck” government. They performed the haka before the start of their match against the Chiefs Manawa.

Now the Chiefs are in the spotlight.

The franchise confirmed the karanga prior to the haka “spoke of the importance of Te Ao Māori” but would give no further details.

Hurricanes CEO Avan Lee has vowed to apologise to the government for the haka.

But Te Pāti Māori has accused the Hurricanes management of trying to dictate what can be said in the haka and said the CEO should apologise instead.

The Chiefs Manawa haka is partly indistinct in the recording of the game but does seem to contain possible strong language - depending on the context of the words.

Before the Super Rugby Aupiki season opener, the Wellington-based Poua performed altered haka which included the words “karetao o te Kāwana kakiwhero”, translating to “puppets of this redneck government”.

The word “kawanatanga” can be heard clearly in the Chiefs’ performance, however, the context in which it was used is unclear.

Asked about it, the Chiefs responded with a statement saying it supported its teams’ rights to freedom of speech.

It then told journalists at press conferences for the men’s and women’s teams on Thursday not to ask questions about it.

The statement said: “The Chiefs Manawa karanga prior to the haka spoke of the importance of Te Ao Māori.

“Te Ao Māori principles are integrated in our club’s strategy and an important part of our Chiefs culture. The karanga, haka and waiata are important rituals for our organisation.

“We believe our players are entitled to their views, and at the Chiefs Rugby Club we provide an environment where every individual can be themselves by supporting our Chiefs wahine and tane to be the best they can be on and off the field.”

It comes as RNZ understands the NZ Māori Rugby Board is to meet on Friday for a hui to discuss issues in Māori Rugby and Māori in rugby.

It is likely the haka will be raised.