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Hurricanes investigate offensive politically-driven haka by Poua

By Ben Smith
Hurricanes Poua players challenge before the round one Super Rugby Aupiki match between Hurricanes Poua and Chiefs Manawa at Levin Domain, on February 25, 2023, in Levin, New Zealand. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

The Hurricanes are looking into the altered haka that the Poua used before the Super Rugby Aupiki opener against Chiefs Manawa which took aim at the coalition government.

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The haka’s leader, prop Leilani Perese, spoke the Maori phrase “karetao o te Kawana kakiwhero” before the start of the haka which translates in English as “puppets of this redneck government”.

The amended version of the haka was completed by composer Hinewai Pomare after players reached out, and then sent to Hurricanes’ management “at the last minute” before the game to receive backing.

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The composer said that the players were “frustrated” by the political environment and looking for “words to reflect that” and “add a bit of spice” to the haka.

“I sent it to management at the last minute. They were like ‘go for it. We back you 100 per cent,'” Perese said.

Perese said the message was politically driven to take a stand against coalition government policy towards Maori and that they will “never fold”.

“I don’t care. I believe in what we’re saying, I stand by it,” she said.

“I believe that in rugby, we have a platform where people watch and listen. And why not use our platform to show our people we will never fold?

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“To tell the government that we are stronger than ever, and we will never go down without a war.

“We wanted it to represent not just Maori, but people of all races and cultures. When we say ‘taku iwi tuohu kore e!’ that means ‘what will always last is our people, we will never fold.’

“Whether we’re Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Indian, what have you. I thought it was important for us to say because we’ve got a lot of other ethnicities in our team.

“I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just about one culture, it’s about all of us,” she said.

RNZ reports that Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee will comment publicly at some stage after the franchise completes its review.

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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