NZ Herald / Christopher Reive


Former All Black Joe Karam believes it’s time for the team to take a page out of the history books when it comes to the haka.

In the lead up to the All Blacks‘ semifinal loss against England last week, the haka was a significant point of discussion among local and foreign media alike.

The pre-game haka has become synonymous with the All Blacks, however there was a time when it was reserved for special occasions. Usually performed ahead of the team’s last match of a tour, the haka wasn’t performed in New Zealand until 1975.

Karam, who played 42 games (10 tests) for the All Blacks from 1972-75, said he would like to see it go back to a similar system.

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“This is not meant with any disrespect to the haka or anything to do with M?oridom; it’s simply that I think the overuse has made it banal and, to some extent, embarrassing in a way – as though the whole of New Zealand is living for the haka when really we’re not, we’re living to watch the All Blacks play a game,” Karam said.


“It’s become a PR, branding, money-making exercise as opposed to something which could add much more value if it was treated respectfully for particular occasions which could be the last game of a tour or perhaps the first game of the year or whatever it might be. Now the focus of the All Blacks appears to almost be more on the haka; they must spend hours and hours practising.

“The general populous in New Zealand for, say, the last 30 years thinks that the haka is an integral, customary tradition of the All Blacks but until about 1980 the only time the haka was ever done by the All Blacks was on the last game of each tour they went on. It wasn’t ever done in New Zealand at all, (so) the customary tradition sort of thing is not really real; it’s not a part of All Blacks folklore, bearing in mind the All Blacks go back to 1905.”

In his three years with the All Blacks, Karam only performed the haka twice. He said performing it more reservedly would make fans and players cherish the experience more.


“If we had a special haka once a year or whatever, I think we’d really look forward to it and it would be something to treasure.”

This article first appeared on and is republished with permission.

World Rugby have faced criticism for fining England due to the way they reacted to the haka:

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