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July 23, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Nothin’ But Net

The Diminishing Returns Of the Haka

The famous South African comedian Peter de Villiers once said that the haka lost its meaning through both commercialisation and overuse.

I hate to admit it, but he has a point.

Maybe I’m jumping to his defence because I’m such a funny comedian myself, and we in this close fraternity like to help each other out.

But while watching the All Blacks or the Kiwis, it’s always moving to see them perform the haka before games.

Besides breaking out into spontaneous renditions of “We’ve Got the World Cup In Our Hands,” there’s nothing that makes me prouder to call myself a New Zealander like those guys.

The passion they have is legendary the world over. The All Blacks’ iconography is the silver fern, the haka and the fact that they strive to win more than they want their next breath or a cold beer (Zac Guildford excepted). Those things don’t stand alone.

Sports isn’t the only haven for patriotic expression. Where else in the world can you be greeted with a wardance? Or have a person honoured at their funeral with one?

By contrast, I remember watching the Tall Blacks open their Basketball World Champs fixture against Lithuania with a haka. Honestly, it was really rather disappointing.

They knew what to do, but even with Pero “the hero” Cameron leading it, it didn’t look that inspired.

The (American) commentator then commended how fearsome the whole thing was, which left me wondering what he’d be saying if Isaac Luke or Piri Weepu had been the leader.

Maybe the whole thing’s just circumstantial. Their squeaky shoes won’t have added any respectability.

Even worse, at the World Cup (I mentioned the World Cup: consume) we saw people doing the haka for any or no reason at all. Mr de Villiers had a point.

Lastly, a fun fact: if you’re a skinny white boy and you do a haka overseas, the government labels you a “National Shame”. You go on a database and they make it hard to get back into the country. True story, you can check up on that one.

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