Maori dragged into US union dispute

Last updated 09:33 26/01/2011
All Blacks haka
PHIL REID/Dominion Post
INTIMIDATING: The All Blacks perform the haka.

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Maori have been ineptly dragged into an American trade union dispute by the top US business daily, the Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper editorially attacked top union boss Richard Trumka for a speech in which he denounced business groups involved in the political process.

But it was the opening lines of the editorial which will surprise many in this part of the world.

"When it comes to intimidating opponents before a fight, no one does it better than New Zealand's Haka tribe, whose members, googly-eyed, stomp their feet, stick out their tongues and bark at their opponents," the Journal intoned.

It said Trumka, who is the AFL-CIO president, could learn from this.

Ex-MP and now Maori commentator John Tamihere was unconcerned.

"I think, isn't interesting that the haka, a signature for the All Blacks and a lot of New Zealanders on an OE, is getting this kind of attention," he said.

"I can see the type of person who reads the Wall Street Journal will probably Google it. They are opinion makers and shakers."

Tamihere added, though, that is was intriguing how people with a little bit of knowledge could still get things wrong.

"On the wider scheme of things I am not insulted, but it would have been better to get the facts a tad right."

He added that any publicity was fine with him and he welcomed last year a controversial ad in Italy which saw women leaping out of a fountain and performing a haka.

"Any where you can penetrate a market and inspire some interest is good."

The Journal's online edition has already attracted comments with people wanting to make corrections.

"I know it's a bit pedantic to point out, but it's also telling that, in their rush to associate unions with a group of 'googly-eyed' brown people, the WSJ editors couldn't spare five seconds to fact-check," one comment said.

Another added: "I want to see it: WSJ Editorial staff vs. the All Blacks. Let them see what intimidation really means."

While another comment said: "Normally the WSJ is pretty good with this stuff, but I have to make this correction...there is no such thing as a Haka 'tribe.' A Haka is a Maori war dance. All Maori tribes have their own Hakas. The New Zealand All Blacks, the national rugby team for New Zealand, made the Haka famous by doing their own before all of their rugby games.'

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