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'Vehicle to express ourselves': Poua haka backed by All Black

Will Toogood,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Mar 2024, 4:07PM

'Vehicle to express ourselves': Poua haka backed by All Black

Will Toogood,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Mar 2024, 4:07PM

Rugby World Cup winning All Black TJ Perenara says he stands with Hurricanes Poua and shares similar views with them as controversy continues around their haka.

The Poua made headlines when before their Super Rugby Aupiki season opener against the Chiefs Manawa, they used an altered haka which used the phrase “karetao o te Kāwana kakiwhero” or “puppets of this redneck Government”.

Speaking to media after his first start for the Hurricanes since 2022 following a long stint on the sidelines with an Achilles injury in a win over the Melbourne Rebels, Perenara said haka are used by Māori as a form of expression and that people deciding when and how they can be used didn’t sit well with him.

“I share similar views to our women and what was said, I back our women, I stand with our women.

“Haka is something that we as Māori use to express ourselves, whether that’s through celebration or whether that’s through frustration. We use haka as a vehicle to express ourselves for whatever emotion we are feeling.

“What better way to express the way you feel than through haka, especially for our Māori people. To me it’s important for Māori to be able to have our haka and use the haka they way we traditionally use our haka.

“A lot of people who have spoken on haka and they want to see one side of haka. They say I want this side but you can’t do it for that reason, and that’s not okay to me. We use haka the way we use haka.”

TJ Perenara leads the All Blacks haka. Photo / Photosport

After consultation with New Zealand Rugby Kaihautu Luke Crawford, the New Zealand Rugby Players Association and Hurricanes management, a new haka was performed against Matatū 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,” Hurricanes boss Avan Lee said following the Matatū haka.

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

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

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.

Perenara became Super Rugby’s third-joint highest try scorer with former Blues flier Doug Howlett as he scored his 59th try in Friday’s win over the Rebels.

Julian Savea became the outright all-time scorer this season on 61 tries. Perenara said the record was something “I’m more aware of now” when asked if the all-time record was an accolade he had been eyeing up. He added that with Savea, one of his closest friends, out in front of him it gave him some motivation to outdo his mate.

“It’d be nice to have one over him.”

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