Doing the haka if you're not Māori is 'banned' under UK-NZ trade deal

22 October 2021, 14:46

The haka is famously performed by the All Blacks rugby union team
The haka is famously performed by the All Blacks rugby union team. Picture: Getty

By James Morris

Doing the haka if you’re not Māori has essentially been banned under a clause signed off by Boris Johnson in the UK’s new trade deal with New Zealand.

The trade agreement, announced on Wednesday, contains a “commitment by the UK to cooperate with New Zealand to identify appropriate ways to advance recognition and protection of the haka, Ka Mate”.

The haka, Ka Mate is a traditional Māori war dance which is famously performed by New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby union team.

There have been instances in the UK where Britons have been accused of cultural appropriation after performing the haka.

Last year, for example, a group of NHS nurses from Devon apologised over a video of them performing the dance while vowing to destroy coronavirus.

The section of the deal addressing the "protection" of the haka, Ka Mate is under its "indigenous trade chapter".

Following the announcement of the deal, New Zealand’s Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi said he hopes it will result in people overseas – not just Britons – treating the haka, Ka Mate with more "respect".

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Referring to the use of a haka in a recent Italian car advert, he was quoted in the New Zealand Herald as saying: "These types of things happen with the haka – you've got to understand the concept of haka, and what it's about.

"It's not a commodity to be used in that sort of space, it's a taonga that's been gifted to the All Blacks by Ngati Toa and Aotearoa and we're really proud of it."

The UK government, meanwhile, has said the overall trade deal will “cut red tape for businesses, end tariffs on UK exports and create new opportunities for tech and services companies, while making it easier for UK professionals to live and work in New Zealand”.