Stop using our Haka, Maori tribe tells anti-vaccine protesters

During protests against pandemic restrictions last week in New Zealand’s capital Wellington, some protesters performed the Maori ceremon...

During protests against pandemic restrictions last week in New Zealand’s capital Wellington, some protesters performed the Maori ceremonial dance known as the Ka Mate haka, known internationally for its performances before rugby matches.

Ngati Toa, the Maori tribe that holds the legal rights to this haka, asked them on Monday to stop. “We insist that the protesters stop using our taonga immediately,” Taku Parai, a senior member of Ngati Toa, said in a statement, using the Maori word for treasure. “We do not support their position.”

A law passed by the New Zealand government in 2014 recognized the tribe, or iwi, as the guardian of the haka. Ka Mate dates back to 1820 and tells the story of the heroic escape of Te Rauparaha, a chief, from capture by a rival tribe. Ngati Toa has already spoken out against its misuse for commercial purposes.

The current coronavirus pandemic has again hit Maori disproportionately. In March, half of people in New Zealand who had ended up in intensive care because of the virus had been Māori, when they made up only 14% of the population. The vaccination rate among Maori lags behind the rest of the country, with 77 percent of eligible people having received at least one dose of a vaccine, compared to 90 percent in the general population.

In light of this history and the ancestors they lost to these illnesses, the tribe has taken a proactive role in vaccinating its members against the coronavirus, said Helmut Modlik, a senior member of Ngati Toa.

“We are absolutely clear that the Covid-19 vaccine is the best protection we have, and we are committed to supporting our whānau to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” added Dr Modlik. He called on the protesters to use a different haka, there are a lot of them.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Stop using our Haka, Maori tribe tells anti-vaccine protesters
Stop using our Haka, Maori tribe tells anti-vaccine protesters
Newsrust - US Top News
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