Stamp of approval to go on American haka

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 05:00 02/10/2011
San Mateo Bulldogs
DRESSING DOWN: San Mateo Bulldogs team members perform their version of "Ka Mate'' in the dressing room.
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It's the haka, but not as we know it.

As the All Blacks international fame grows, an American college football team has taken to performing a whooping, crowing, hybridised version of the team's haka Ka Mate before games.

Ka Mate guardians Ngati Toa said they have no problem with the team using the haka – but they could do with a bit of discipline and technique.

The San Mateo Bulldogs American Football team has posted footage of its pre-match haka on its Facebook page and it is clearly based on Ka Mate.

The players stand in a circle whooping and jumping during the routine which then breaks into part of another haka, possibly Ngati Kahungunu's Tika Tonu, at the end.

"You can't fault their enthusiasm," said Teariki Wi Neera, who is on Ngati Toa's Ka Mate sub-committee.

But he said their rendition was a bit like "a bad Coke ad".

"We're incredibly proud of Ka Mate and we prefer to see it done properly."

Wi Neera said Ngati Toa would be happy to provide some instruction, an offer Bulldogs assistant coach Tim Tulloch said his players would be "ecstatic" to receive.

Tulloch said the players started performing haka before their games in 2009 and that year the team won the Northern California championships.

"I think it catapulted us to that championship. There's not a game since we have been doing this that we have not been ready for battle."

The team performs the haka in the dressing room as performing it on the field is a "decorum violation". Two decorum violations see a team suspended from the competition.

Tulloch said San Mateo, just south of San Francisco, had a large Polynesian population and one of the players on the team, Samoan Lyman Faoliu, had selected the haka they wanted to perform.

Faoliu had taught the team about the haka's history and significance but some input from a real Maori tribe would be "amazing", Tulloch said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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