Kevin Norquay: Why we should care what a US broadcaster thinks of the haka

Reuben Te Rangi and the Tall Blacks lay down a haka at the Fiba Asia Cup in Beirut this year.
FIBA

Reuben Te Rangi and the Tall Blacks lay down a haka at the Fiba Asia Cup in Beirut this year.

OPINION: Calling the haka "stupid" says more about US broadcaster, podcaster and UFC specialist Joe Rogan, than it does about the traditional Māori challenge.

If he were an anthropologist, someone with expertise in society and culture, maybe his thoughts on the haka would be worth something. But he's abjectly not.

He's an American who is quite good at martial arts, has a podcast and whose TV series Joe Rogan Questions Everything lasted just six episodes.

The Tall Blacks perform a haka before a match against the Australian Boomers in 2015.
HAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES

The Tall Blacks perform a haka before a match against the Australian Boomers in 2015.

If only he'd taken on the sage advice of 1960s protest singer Bob Dylan "don't criticise what you can't understand", the world would have been a slightly more understanding place.

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Before Rogan called the haka stupid, he'd taken a pot shot at native Americans performing a war cry before battle.

Joe Rogan, left, with Kiwi mixed martial artist Mark Hunt.
ETHAN MILLER/GETTY IMAGES

Joe Rogan, left, with Kiwi mixed martial artist Mark Hunt.

The UFC warrior is good at picking on minorities, it seems.

I'm going to take Dylan's advice here and not criticise Rogan, because I can't understand him.

I can't understand people who look at another culture, and belittle it for being different to their own.

I can't understand why those who see such differences fear or ridicule, rather than embrace or learn. It's their choice.

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I can't understand how anyone seeing the haka would mock it, when there are more positive routes for them and for society to choose.

Rogan and actor Hannibal Buress went into the haka when discussing the ability to control the state of the mind.

"The haka, is that a New Zealand thing?" the Fear Factor host asked Buress.

Shown a video of the Tall Blacks doing the haka before playing the USA, Rogan called a foul.

"They're doing it in a basketball game? This is ridiculous, they're playing basketball. You're playing NBA superstars you f...ing dummies... It seems stupid. If you're playing basketball it's stupid.

"It's a performance art. The other players clapped. They're like 'good job children!'. It's weird if you do all of that then get your a.. kicked."

Why stop at the haka Joe? If you're not willing to embrace the differences call Irish dancing idiotic, Morris dancers moronic, Scottish sword dancers silly.

Unleash on the tango, on the waltz, the polka, and ridicule reggae; anything that doesn't fit your world view (such as native Americans, it seems).

But why should we care about what a comedian who started out in blue comedy (contains swearing and sexual imagery designed to shock) has to say?

We shouldn't, apart from the fact that Rogan is an influencer with a large audience.

If he says the haka is "stupid", some people in a country that voted Trump will believe it so; that belief can't be left unchallenged.

Let's be proactive, protect our national treasures, ensure a culture that has contributed so much that is positive to society is celebrated and elevated, not left to wither on the tawa vines.

If Rogan had indeed questioned everything as his late TV show alleged, he might have learned the Tall Blacks' haka was in part out of respect for the US basketball team.

It honoured them. And Rogan mocked that.

* Rogan has since apologised for his remarks, saying he actually thought the haka was amazing. "I was just making fun of one moment where it looked out of place in a basketball game. 

"My sincerest apologies to the people of New Zealand."

 - Stuff

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