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New Zealand Maori win haka fight

11 February 09 13:54 GMT

The New Zealand government has agreed to acknowledge Maori ownership of the haka war dance used by the national rugby team, the All Blacks.

The agreement comes after protracted negotiations between the government and several Maori tribes seeking compensation for historic grievances.

Millions of dollars are being paid in a comprehensive settlement.

The move follows concerns the Ka Mate haka, known to rugby fans world-wide, was being commercially exploited.

In 2006, an advertisement for Fiat cars featured Italian women doing a version of the haka.

The challenge has also featured in a cinema film about rugby called Forever Strong.

The government has now agreed that the Ka Mate haka belongs to a Maori tribe, the Ngati Toa.

Its chief, Te Rauparaha, was recognised as the originator of the haka, written to celebrate his escape from death in a battle in the 1820s.

Cash settlement

Wider grievances, dating back more than 150 years, are also part of the settlement, with the government distributing NZ$300m (US$157m, £108m) to eight Maori tribes.

The eight tribes comprise some 12,000 members and will receive about half the amount in cash and the rest in rents from government-owned forests and greenhouse gas emission credits.

Maori make up around 15% of New Zealand's 4.3 million population.

They say they have been the victims of illegal land seizures and breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, which was agreed between British settlers and indigenous people in 1840.

One Maori negotiator said this latest settlement would never make up for what had been taken but would provide a resource for the future.

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