Can’t Haka it

The Tri Nations Rugby League tournament kicked off* the other night. Normally international Rugby League is a chance for the best performing players from the season’s NRL competition to put off their post season holiday and earn a healthy representative bonus (and it’s a chance to bump up their asking price at the next round of contract negotiations). This year there’s a little more on the line because somehow the Kiwi’s are the reigning Tri Nations champions. The opening bout had all the ingredients of a successful representative match – an all in brawl encompassing a camera man, a length of the field try, and Willie Mason getting absolutely smashed by a flying shoulder charge from David Kidwell. The spite displayed on the field was apparently (at least so the media beat up claims) brought about by Willie Mason’s posturing during the All Black’s traditional posturing. A significant level of public outrage has developed because Mason so obviously showed contempt for a “significant” cultural display. Now I’m not Willie Mason’s biggest fan. And I won’t defend what he had to say – unless my lip reading abilities have done me a disservice and he was actually talking about a firetruck. But I will defend his right not to treat the Haka as a “significant” cultural display. It would seem to me that calling for a war cry to be humbly respected and observed on a cultural basis would open up a can of worms – must we then stand by and allow the Nazi’s to conduct their purge of all non Arians because that’s a significant part of their culture? A war cry is a declaration of open hostility. The Haka is no more culturally significant than a Nazi salute – and Mark Bosnich can attest to how much trouble that gets you in. At this point I should point out that I’m not condoning anything as offensive as the Bosnich salute. But to present the Haka as a cultural institution to be treated with the same respect as a national anthem seems ludicrous to me. To my knowledge the national anthem of New Zealand was not used to rouse spear wielding Polynesians into battle frenzy. I’m not against the performance of the Haka – I think it’s a completely appropriate form of preparation for an on field battle. I am against the idea that one team should sit idly by while their opponents attempt to psychologically intimidate them. For Big Willie’s benefit I have prepared a list of alternative activities for next Saturday’s haka that are guaranteed to be more off-putting:

1. Run around flapping your arms screaming “I’m a Faerie/Fairy/ferry watch me fly”

2. Prance about with your shorts pulled up as high as possible linking arms with team mates and spinning around.

3. Play hand clapping games (including chants) with the team mate on your left

4. Form a line and do a Riverdance (remember that Irish dance troupe who were all the rage in the mid 90s – complete with Michael Flatley) demonstration

5. Move into position and take a quick kick off catching your opponents unprepared – you should be able to regather and score the first try untouched.

Before any resident Rugby Union fans interject with “all those effeminate activities are entirely appropriate for Rugby League players” – I would suggest the union team not only adopt these policies but provide coaching for any league players struggling to come to terms with being a fairy. If there’s one thing that should unite League and Union fans it’s a common hatred of the Kiwis.

Another story sure to cause a stirring of the old League v Union rivalry is the news that the Gold Coast Titans are looking to snare Jonah Lomu. This would have been really big news ten years ago before Lomu was floored by repeated kidney failure. Now it would be just as significant as Union signing someone of similarly redundant vintage. But it shows a certain willingness of Union superstars to make the jump over to what I would say is arguably (although that implies there’s a level of conjecture – whereas I would argue that there’s no real argument – I just couldn’t think of a better word) a vastly superior game. There’s an old saying about rats deserting a sinking ship. And another one about chef’s desserting a sinking ship (which had to do with the distribution of ice cream on the Titanic as it went down – unfortunately the chef’s creative “Iceberg” dessert also went down like a sinking ship (or a lead balloon) and he was summarily executed)**.

* It’s nice to be able to use a cliché somewhat literally rather than in a figurative sense.

** All information contained in the parenthesis completely untrue.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

13 thoughts on “Can’t Haka it”

  1. I completely agree. If the idea of the Haka is to intimidate people, why should the opposite team stand by and let themselves be intimidated? All in the name of cultural respect. What a joke.

  2. we should introduce indigenous ritual spearings as part of our pre game routine – we could throw spears at the opposition with a woomera (I think that’s the spear throwing thing). That would be intimidating.

  3. Whenever I watch football (of any code really) I wonder why it is supposedly the ‘manly’ thing to do.. I mean, they spend half the match patting eachother on the bottom after having group hugs?
    The last time I went to the Ballet (the supposedly ‘gay’ thing to do) I couldn’t help but notice that there was indeed no man – man hugging or bottom patting. In fact, most of the men on stage were quite… er… “hands on” with some attractive young ladies (and undoubtably stronger than most footballers. The ladies too I reckon). So why such perceptions? And don’t try and tell me it’s the tights… footy shorts aren’t exactly modest…
    Perhaps I’m trashing a precious cultural activity here?

  4. Ok, a few comments about your new lay out.
    1) I must say, even if it did mess up my eyes after reading it too long, I liked white printing on black back ground better.
    2) The text area is too wide… ie. it shows too much print at once and as your paragraphs can be a bit on the long side (:P) it can be overwhelming to look at and can be discouraging to read…

    Otherwise… the haka. Heh. On Ski Camp*, on the pensioners’ night, we played “walker soccer” (using chairs as walkers) and one team did their version of the haka, with their “walkers”, before the game started. It was pretty amusing.

    *The traditionalists’ name for NQ Xtreme

  5. Yeah, I’m still toying with the layout… expect more changes to occur until I’m happy with things. But I do like my new banner.

  6. Andrewf,

    An opera singer who attends the ballet… I think it’s the proclivity (A natural propensity or inclination) of the males involved in the ballet community to be of the “gay” variety that leads to the stereotype. I can only remember one openly gay footballer (league player) in the last 15 years. AFL players on the other hand…

  7. Joel,

    I’m glad you agree. And now I’m just blatantly bumping up the comment count so people will come to this page and maybe post something. Comments are what keeps me occupied at work people. Do your bit for my sanity.

  8. stewart – unkultured and unAustralian… or something…

    Nathan, I do understand the whole “most ballet dancers are gay” thing, but really, is it just a vicious cycle? Perhaps someone who is interested in dance would question their sexuality because of the stereotype? And not all dancers are gay either… Just like the majority of Counter-Tenors (male sopranos who also seem to carry the “gay” stigma) are not gay. They just sing like girls… :P

  9. I didn’t actually say “most” I think it’s a matter of a larger than average percentage of gay participants. Perhaps the stereotype does play a part – or perhaps it’s simply a cultural outlet favoured by the gay community – in the same way they favour tight pink muscle shirts and sucked mango hairstyles

  10. So the nancy boys are drawn to ballet and the raping/pillaging types to rugby ____ ? I suppose the stereotype had to come from somewhere, but I tend to think that when society says doing a certain thing means you must have a certain sexual preference, then people of low self-esteem are probably going to end up falling into that stereotype. I wonder what would happen if society started saying that everyone who plays sport is gay?
    Are we perpetuating damaging stereotypes?

  11. What’s a sucked mango hairstyle btw?

    (My gay friends must be pretending.. they have normal haircuts. I think it’s a ruse, so they can hug the girls… :P )

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