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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 January 2007, 12:01 GMT
Team apologises for topless haka
Image from Canterbury Women's Rugby Club calendar
The semi-nude calendar led to upset in the Maori community
An English women's rugby team caused upset in New Zealand's Maori community when their fund-raising calendar included a picture of a topless haka.

The team said the image was based on the ceremonial war dance but they did not mean to offend, and apologised.

Maori cultural leader Pita Sharples said he had "no problem" with the Kent team's fund-raising effort in the UK.

But he said the haka was "a serious thing" in New Zealand where the calendar has had a mixed reaction.

It was just lots of jumping up and down and lots of screaming
Rebecca Willis

"Some Maoris were upset by it, not terribly upset, but they thought it was in bad taste," the Maori Party MP added.

"When the club comes to New Zealand, I would expect them to respect the haka. But over there, as a fundraising effort, I wish them well."

Canterbury Women's Rugby Club spokeswoman Rebecca Willis said 500 copies of the calendar were produced to raise money for the kit, for the team and for Breast Cancer Care.

Ms Willis said: "It was based on the haka but it wasn't necessarily the New Zealand haka.

"It was just lots of jumping up and down and lots of screaming.

"We didn't know we would be treading on toes and we didn't think it would get as far as New Zealand.

"We do know that it's sacred."


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