6 Mar 2024

Hurricanes Poua won't be allowed to repeat haka criticising government

11:33 am on 6 March 2024
Poua haka during the Super Rugby Aupiki.

Poua haka during the Super Rugby Aupiki. Photo: Marty Melville

The Hurricanes women's team, the Poua, will be told they will not be allowed to repeat a controversial haka that was performed on Saturday, the chief executive says.

Before their Super Rugby Aupiki season opener against the Chiefs Manawa, the Wellington-based team used an altered haka which included the words "karetao o te Kāwana kakiwhero", translating to "puppets of this redneck government".

The haka referred to Toitu te Tiriti, a political movement that has taken a stand against coalition government policies on te reo Māori and perceived breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi and encouraged people to "never fold and never bend".

Avan Lee told Morning Report the players would be spoken to on Thursday.

"But I've made it very clear to management, team management, that we are not supportive of the words used."

The players are not employees of The Hurricanes but their collective agreement includes "no political statements... not bringing the game into disrepute", he said.

29082016 Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King. New Zealand Rugby on Monday confirmed All Blacks and Hurricanes first five-eighth Beauden Barrett signed until the next World Cup in Japan.Hurricanes Chief Executive Avan Lee.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

While Lee accepts the haka can be political, he said the words used had gone too far.

"These are obviously somewhat controversial words that have been used, there's been no discussion or consultation outside of the team so you know, it's not our place to make a political statement whether they are positive about the government or negative about the government."

Players hoping to express a political opinion should do so as an individual, but not through the Hurricanes, he said.

Sports and Recreation Minister Chris Bishop has dismissed claims that the government was "redneck" and said while he disagreed with the message of the haka, Poua were entitled to their view.

Chris Hipkins

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

'That is the nature of what haka is'

Former Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says it is up to sports codes to deal with issues like this.

Speaking to Morning Report, the Labour leader said he has seen the haka performed in situations ranging from All Black test matches to controversial situations.

"That is the nature of what haka is."

But he said it was up sporting codes to talk to teams about what was expected.

"I think politicians shouldn't tell sports teams what to do.

"I don't think we should tell them how to play the game or what they should or shouldn't say.

"We live in a country where we have free speech, people are entitled to express their views and entitled to express unpopular views.

"Where they do that as a sports team that is a question for the sports code to make decisions on."