A war of words has broken out between two rugby columnists after a call was made for the All Blacks’ haka to be banned.
A war of words has broken out between two rugby columnists after a call was made for the All Blacks’ haka to be banned.

All Blacks haka ‘an unfair advantage and needs to stop’

A WAR of words has broken out between two sports columnists after a call was made for the All Blacks' haka to be banned.

Irish rugby writer, Ewan MacKenna wrote a column for Pundit Arena saying "The haka gives New Zealand an unfair advantage and needs to stop". The column echoes similar sentiments from former England hooker Brian Moore who said he is "bored" with the haka.

The strongly-worded piece - and Moore's comments - have attracted the ire of New Zealand writer Kevin Norquay, who countered their arguments with his own.

"When an Irish shock jock column writer wants the haka banned it's blarney, akin to Kiwis telling the Irish there's too much Guinness in the world," Norquay wrote for stuff.

"And when a stadium boos the haka, you know it's got under their skin. It's been noticed, and they're trying a counter attack, as they're entitled to do."

Norquay argued that New Zealand may have a "boring" flag and national anthem, but that the haka - which he said is a "national treasure" - is anything but.

"If you travel overseas, and show the locals video of the haka, boredom is not their reaction. Sorry, Brian. It's more like "wow!" he wrote.

In his column for Pundit Arena, MacKenna asks why the World Cup is still "pandering to the dance".

"That's unfortunate as New Zealand are justifiably big-headed enough without a massaging of their already massive egos," MacKenna wrote.

"Yet even World Rugby have it in their rules that to not stand on your own 10-metre line and watch a bunch stick out their tongues and slap their thighs is worthy of a fine and a telling off.

"Indeed if we are to engage in these cultural activities in rugby, perhaps Ireland's opponents should have to spend a few minutes watching our players sitting around a table in midfield, sipping cups of tea and bemoaning everything from economic migrants to the latest bin charges."

MacKenna wrote that the haka had "been ruthlessly exploited and commercialised and ultimately cheapened", yet acknowledged it's "beauty" and cultural significance.




Nonetheless, he added: "There's a practical reason why the haka shouldn't happen as, while it provides a psychological edge through self-inspiration and via an attempt at opponent intimidation, it also provides a small physical edge as others are forced to stand still and go briefly cold.

"There's another reason too though as there is a huge lack of self-awareness about this. Again there are those who'll say it's native and it is to some, but the majority of New Zealand players haven't been Maori. Instead, they descend from forefathers who were actually ruthless oppressors of natives."

Norquay found that point to be a hypocritical given MacKenna was asking for the haka to be banned altogether.

"So the way to counter this ruthless oppression of Māori, is more ruthless oppression - stomping out the haka prior to test matches?" he wrote.

"Yeah, right."

This story originally appeared in the NZ Herald and was republished with permission.