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Hurricanes Poua double down and defy CEO with new political haka

By Ned Lester
Hurricanes Poua perform their haka. Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

The Hurricanes Poua evoked quite the stir last week with a new haka that called out the government for its policies regarding Maori affairs and handling of Maori issues. This week, they have doubled down on that message with another new haka.

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The line “puppets of the redneck government” was part of the reported translation from last week’s haka, which caused plenty of conversation and controversy. There were many responses to the statement, including from New Zealand’s deputy prime minister Winston Peters, who made a dig at the team’s loss following the haka.

Both Peters and fellow party leader within the coalition government David Seymour criticised the message while emphasising the Poua’s right to freedom of speech.

Hurricanes CEO Avan Lee said there would be internal discussions about the haka and it would not happen again. He also said there would be an apology made to the government.

“I’ve made it very clear to management, team management, that we are not supportive of the words used,” he told RNZ.

However, the Poua unveiled a new haka in round two, and once more made a statement and addressed the government.

“New Zealand rise up! Here is Hurutearangi,” the haka’s translation read.

“Governments are temporary, the Treaty will endure. Poua will endure.”

This week, the statement was followed by a better result as the Poua claimed a 36-29 win over defending champions Matatu.

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The Poua players are not full time employees of the Hurricanes, but they do have a collective agreement with the club which includes “no political statements… not bringing the game into disrepute,” the club’s CEO added.

Clarity was also being sought over the Chiefs Manawa’s haka, with suggestions the team also referenced the government.

This week, Manawa and Black Ferns players Ruby Tui and Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu have stepped aside from their team’s haka in what has been interpreted by some as a show of solidarity with the Poua.

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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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