Reinventing the haka

In a recent post, Kevin Roberts asks some interesting questions about the All Blacks’ haka:

“Is it time to change our view on the Haka? Have we spent too much time investing in its cultural implications and the reaction of the opposition?

Should we – a) perform it for ourselves in the changing shed as we did successfully in Cardiff against Wales, b) perform it after the game in celebration of victory as Titch and the Sevens teams do, or c) put it under wraps until we win the World Cup in 2011.”

I think that making it a private thing would be a shame – there is something quite special about the buzz created by a haka in a massive stadium setting. But, treating it as something that is done after a win only seems a great idea.

And this doesn’t necessarily mean that it loses it’s impact as a challenge. Think of it as a challenge to the opposition to lift their game for the next time the two teams meet – playing nicely into the All Black ethos of wanting to win every match.

If you think this is crazy, or that the haka is untouchable, consider that the haka has only been a feature of All Blacks home test matches since 1987 (prior to that it was only performed on international tours, and even then generally badly). And, in the last couple of years it has evolved further with the introduction of Kapo o Pango.

I think we definitely underestimate the impact of the haka as a motivations for opposition teams, and it would be great to re-claim it for ourselves.

What do you think?

Why couldn’t this happen?

Would performing the haka after a victory have the desired impact?

I’m interested in your thoughts.

PS It’s interesting to note that one of the three suggestions I made for re-invorgorating the All Blacks following the World Cup last year has already come to pass with mid-week matches scheduled for the end-of-year tour to the UK. There is also a Bledisloe Cup match to be held in Hong Kong. I expect this to be a huge success – perhaps the prelude to a full Pan Pacific Championships to be held somewhere in Asia? ;-)

7 thoughts on “Reinventing the haka”

  1. Hmmm, not sure performing the haka before, during or after an All Black game is going to do much for the (excuse me using the phrase) “grass roots support” within NZ at the mo’.

    I’m sure an All Black win will raise the spirits but how much longer can the NZRU continue as a level 1 player with the loss of money, players and support from NZ?

    Pan-Pacific Championship – now that’s a good idea IF it coincides with less Tri-Nations and the return of real tours. Otherwise rugby is off down the soccer/football path 100% and, well, I may as well watch that.

  2. There is no problem with the haka.

    If you are focusing on the haka as part of a solution then your solution is going to fail. Leave it alone, let the team pick which one they are going to do (Kapa O Pango or Ka Mate). The biggest change to make in regard to our pre-match warm-up is one that we can all do. Just enjoy it and stop analysing it (especially if you are part of the media).

    It’s something fans love (and if you don’t believe that I suggest you have another listen to the boos in Cardiff when there was no haka) and so don’t touch it.

  3. Also, just to clarify (and not to be prissy), it is one midweek match against Munster as part of a 30th anniversary of the game in which they beat the All Blacks.

    And while the Hong Kong seemed like a good idea at the time, it will do nothing to invigorate the game here.

    Scrapping the tri-nations is the best thing they can do.

  4. Seems to me the better we’ve got at the Haka, the worse we’ve got at Rugby – we’re taking our eye off the ball. People are now turning to each other in the pub saying ‘good haka!’ to each other like it’s some kind of sporting achievement or pointer to the performance to come, instead of the pre-rehearsed routine that it is.

    So, I quite like the idea of doing it only if we win – let’s make it special again, not just part of the All Black’s ‘brand’ (KR has much to answer for in this area).

    But Stephen – heh, great point, well made(!).

  5. Isn’t kind of silly to challenge the other team after the game though?

    After the game should be all handshakes and jersey swaps. Also it’s less likely that we’ll see the haka because it’ll add X minutes to the television broadcast.

    Oh, and if everyone in the stands sticks around to see the haka, then it’s gonna be harder to drive home coz of all the traffic :)

  6. The haka was traditionally performed as a means of extolling your mana or the mana of your people. It basically told a story about who you were, and where you came from. It was often performed before going to war as well as after a victorious battle. Although the All Blacks Haka has been traditionally viewed as the “laying down of a challenge” it really is not specific to that at all, and could be performed at anytime and be appropriate.

    I personally think that performing the Haka before a match has become just as much about the All Blacks brand as it is about laying down the challenge and getting the players pumped before a match. I think the magic of the Haka could be restored by letting the individual circumstances dictate whether it was performed or not so there was a sense of mystery around are they going to do it or not. That way it could be performed before or after the match and could be directed toward the opposition as a challenge or the crowd as a form of thanks for there support after a victory. It would also make the Haka itself a more authentic act and not just part an extension of the All Black branding machine.

    My 2 cents

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