Maori Tribe Wants Anti-Vaxxers to Stop Using Famous Haka

Ceremonial dance was performed by protesters in NZ capital last week
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2021 2:08 PM CST

A Maori tribe in New Zealand wants anti-vaccine protesters to stop using its ceremonial dance immediately. The country's All Blacks national rugby team has permission from the Ngati Toa tribe to perform the Ka Mate haka before games, but no such permission was granted to protesters who performed the haka after marching in Wellington last week, the Guardian reports. The tribe said Monday that it condemns use of the haka "to push and promote anti-COVID-19-vaccination messages” and it requests "that anti-vaccination and anti-mandate protesters cease the use of Ka Mate at their protests immediately." The Ka Mete haka is almost 200 years old and the tribe was granted ownership of it under a 2014 law.

New Zealand stepped up vaccination campaigns last month after abandoning its zero COVID strategy, but the vaccination rate among Maori has lagged behind the rest of the country, reports the New York Times reports. Ngati Toa spokesman Helmut Modlik says previous pandemics have hit the tribe hard and they are committed to getting the community vaccinated as quickly as possible. "We are absolutely clear that the COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection we have available to us," says Modlik.

"Our message to protesters who wish to use Ka Mate is to use a different haka," Modlik says. "We do not endorse the use of Ka Mate for this purpose." The tribe decided to speak out after learning that prominent anti-vaxxer Brian Tamaki, leader of a fundamentalist Christian group, planned to teach the haka to protesters at future demonstrations, Newshub reports. (Read more New Zealand stories.)

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