Kapa o Pango, the controversial deviation of the more traditional haka, has finally been accepted by the New Zealand Rugby Union.
The All Blacks, led by the Maori Rico Gear performed this war dance moments before kickoff at Christchurch, and went on to beat the Wallabies by 20 points.
“The boys felt like doing it and I thought we did it well tonight,” New Zealand captain Richie McCaw told Sunday News after the 32-12 thrashing of Australia. “They enjoyed doing it.”
McCaw fought hard for the new haka to be accepted by the All Blacks administration, who had previously ruled that the throat-slitting gesture at the end may upset the viewing public.
“We need to promote understanding of haka,” NZRU chief executive Chris Moller said in a press release that vindicated the board’s decision to okay the Maori challenge.
“The concern about Kapa o Pango’s final gesture makes that clear. While the haka’s final movement has regularly been described as a cut-throat gesture, its meaning within Maori culture and the tradition of haka is very different.”
Derek Lardelli. the author of the new haka has been working with the All Blacks in it’s development, and explained in the NZRU press release that the final word of the Kapo o Pango, Ha, translates as “breath of life.”
The words and motions represent drawing vital energy into the heart and lungs. The right arm searches for the Ha on the left side of the body, Lardelli explained, while the head turns to the right also symbolically seeking vital energy. The right hand hauls that energy into the pou-whakaora (the heart, lungs and air passages), then the eyes and tongue signal that the energy has been harnessed before it is expelled with the final Ha.
New Zealand-born Wallabies hooker Jeremy Paul is another supporter of the new haka, but admits that it is a very small part of the game.
“It’s great. . . it’s unique and something that’s good for the game,” Paul told reporters. ” But I’m more scared of (All Blacks flanker) Jerry Collins’ forearm than I am of that.”