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Listen to the fearsome haka
 real 28k

Tom Mulligan
"By trademarking this one and limiting its use, it will probably end up on the shelf, gathering dust"
 real 28k

Friday, 16 June, 2000, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
All Blacks fight to keep haka
The haka has been handed down from native teams
The All Blacks could be about to lose their trademark war-dance, the haka, which for decades has been used to strike terror into the hearts of those who dare play New Zealand's national rugby team.

A Maori Tribe, the Ngati Toa, wants to trademark the haka and that might cost the All Blacks more than 500,000 if they want to keep using it.

The haka ... is a treasure which been handed down to use to enhance and hand on

Tom Mulligan, NZ Rugby Union
New Zealand rugby's governing body says the haka should belong to everyone.

The All Blacks have been performing the haka before matches since 1905 and say it is not worth having if it is something that can be bought and sold.

Tom Mulligan chairman of a New Zealand Rugby Union group which has been set up to promote Maori interests, said: "Every tribe has their own haka. By trademarking this one and limiting its use, it will probably end up on the shelf, gathering dust.

"It will also reduce the spontaneity that the haka means to people.

Controversy: England defied the haka
"In the 1995 America's Cup victory the team got up and did the haka and that identified them with New Zealand."

Mr Mulligan, a Maori himself, added: "The haka was first performed by a native team in the 1880s and that to us is a treasure which been handed down to use to enhance and hand on."

And it now appears even the Maoris are now squabbling over who owns the rights.

The Haka is said to have been written by Te Rauparaha, an ancestral chief of one tribe, while hiding in another tribe's territory, and who later came to be associated with a third tribe.

All three claim rights to his legacy in one way or another.

Spice Girls

Former All Black John Gallagher, who now plays for Harlequins in the UK, said he has some sympathy with the Maoris.

But he noted the haka used by the All Blacks was not the only one around - they could even get a new one written for them.

Gallagher said: "It's just a question of how much you value it, really.

"Obviously the All Blacks value it very highly and the indigenous people value it very highly indeed, and I'm sure the Maoris don't want to be doing something that's going to be totally unpopular."

The haka has been at the centre of controversy before. The Spice Girls staged an impromptu haka - which is forbidden to women - during a visit to Bali.

But that was nothing compared to the row that erupted in 1997 when England met the New Zealand team for a test match at Old Trafford.

England player Richard Cockerill eyeballed his All Black opponent from the centre line, apparently mouthing derision, while the haka was being performed.

Cockerill's response sparked outrage among Maoris in New Zealand, who deemed it offensive.

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See also:

23 Jan 98 | Sport
Bowls club adopts war dance
08 Oct 99 | England
England receive 'Haka' warning
10 Nov 97 | All Blacks on tour
Trademark haka designed to intimidate
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