Hurricanes clarify latest Poua haka after ‘irresponsible’ translation

File photo / Sky Sport

The Hurricanes have moved to clarify the meaning behind the latest haka performed by the Hurricanes Poua, after reports suggesting the women’s team defied organisation orders.

The Poua made headlines last week when they used their haka before their game against Chiefs Manawa to call out the Government. It was a move Hurricanes boss Avan Lee said was made with no consultation with the organisation.

The team drew plenty of attention again yesterday when their haka before their win over Matatū with references to the Government and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

However, this week’s haka was one that the team had developed in consultation with the wider organisation to ensure no lines were being crossed while still allowing the players to use their voices.

“It’s been a challenging week. We did not approve of some of the words used in the Poua haka last week and made that clear,” Lee said.

“Players and management worked hard to understand different perspectives and acknowledge various views and opinions.

“With the assistance of cultural advisors, the players amended their haka in a way the club was satisfied that it was respectful and true to the team.”

The alternate haka enraged Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters who took to X (formerly Twitter) to voice his displeasure.

“The Hurricanes may well lose support and viewers because the CEO has a bunch of naive players damaging the brand by attempting to wade into partisan political activism without any concept of reality,” he posted.

“They are trying to insult the government but are instead now just slapping the Hurricane brand and CEO in the face. Go woke go broke.”

New Zealand Rugby kaihautū Luke Crawford provided context to the haka as a whole and stressed the importance of correctly interpreting haka.

“The team have chosen to take a very Māori approach to the rewrite of the haka and therefore individual words inside the haka are merely representative of a far deeper body of Māori knowledge, language and thinking which are not easily deciphered without the assistance of Pukenga Māori [experts],” Crawford said.

“The Poua haka seeks to urge the nation in behind the team, refocus themselves back to their game and to acknowledge the key things that motivate and turn on their superpowers.

“The haka reference to the Government is in fact part of refocusing away from politics and turning to those things that power, connect, unify, and motivate the team. Other than the first line which speaks to Aotearoa, the rest of the haka is an inward-facing conversation for the team.

“Translating a single line of the haka in the way that weaponises it against the team, is frankly irresponsible especially when there are a number of other ways to translate that same line.

“The Hurricanes have come a long way and we have a long way to go, but we have just seen the result of what can happen when we allow a team to be their authentic selves and work well with everyone in the waka.”

Poua head coach Ngatai Walker reinforced those comments, noting some individual words in Saturday’s haka may have been misinterpreted, and he clarified its meaning.

“The intent of the meaning is, ‘Aotearoa unite, Hurutearangi (female god of the wind) has arrived; challenges may come and go, but we will endure’.

“I am really proud of the performance the players put on the field. They played with mana for their families, their community, and the club.”