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Ka Mate – a commodity to trade or taonga to treasure?

As we approach the ninth Rugby World Cup, hosted by Japan in September-November later this year, Massey University researchers are recommending more protections for the use of haka in marketing, both here and overseas.

Lead researcher Jeremy Hapeta, (Ngāti Raukawa Ngāti Huia, Ngāti Pareraukawa), and colleagues Dr Farah Palmer, (Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato) and Dr Yusuke Kuroda, carried out a literature review which drew upon existing research, legislation and recent marketing campaigns. Additionally, the study involved interviews with pukengā (experts) to gather pūrākau (narratives) from their informed perspectives and reflections of the commercialisation of this particular Māori ritual in sport.

“Haka can be used for celebrations, protests, acknowledgement and an expression of identity that may align with nationality, ethnicity, sub-culture, a movement or a brand,” Mr Hapeta says. “The benefits of pūrākau embedded within ngā taonga tuku iho [cultural treasures] such as haka however, tend to be absent in sport marketing.”

Mr Hapeta would like New Zealand Rugby (NZR) to play a leading role in guiding global corporations and sponsors in relation to accessing and attributing the haka to the appropriate iwi and people.

“We can’t continue to turn a blind eye to the disrespectful ways that haka are used for commercial purposes. While the NZR appear to be responding with the establishment of a kaitiaki group for haka within the All Blacks, a pūkenga for the Māori All Blacks and organisation, the adoption of a Respect and Inclusion programme, and a cultural subcommittee of the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board, more still needs to be done to protect the mana of the haka as a taonga.”

ends

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