New haka for the Chiefs

Standing up for the women behind the scenes

LIB WILSON
Last updated 05:00 03/03/2014
female haka
Peter Drury/Fairfax NZ

EQUALLY FIERCE: Female performers join a haka written for the Chiefs to acknowledge the role women play in rugby battles. 

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Women hold the fort when Chiefs do battle and that's why the local rugby team now has a haka that pays them tribute, says its author.

The new haka, performed in Waikato Stadium for the first time on Saturday -before the Chiefs beat the Highlanders 21-19 - included female performers.

The men performed the usual haka as the teams warmed up, then the women came in from the opposite end of the field.

They met in the middle for a new haka written by Ora Kihi, a tutor for the Tu Matariki group.

It paid tribute to the important role ladies play when the blokes are on the field, he said, and was penned after a collective agreement between him and Chiefs staff.

"We look at it [the game] as a type of war, so who's going to look after our pa or our marae while the chiefs are away?" he said.

"More or less the introduction of the ladies was to have a representation of the partners and the mothers of the players . . .

"It's important for us to make sure that the ladies have a voice through us as well and the players understand that without their partners they wouldn't be where they are."

The haka is tailored for the Chiefs.

It acknowledges the local area and has references to warrior chief Te Rauangaanga, father of the first Maori King, "and how the Chiefs stadium used to be an old battle site".

The places players hail from, including Auckland, Hastings and Taranaki, are also mentioned.

Mr Kihi said the haka had to help players through their preparation, and honouring the players' families and maintaining protocol for the visiting team were also part of the group's duties.

However, they didn't have time to gauge crowd reaction afterwards as they had to rush back to the Relay For Life.

"We don't want to be seen as a group who's just show ponies . . . we want to make sure that we're out there in real community kaupapa."

But there could be more emphasis on the haka, rugby fan Rob Bull said.

The recent arrival from Hawke's Bay was at his first Chiefs match and said teams warming up and pre-recorded big screen interviews and video feed meant there was a lot going on while the haka were being performed.

"They could probably have an event of the haka, full stop," he said.

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- Waikato Times

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