Inappropriate gesture in Blues haka

I didn’t see the Blues haka preceding last night’s game against the Lions, but Missy points out a very poorly considered gesture in the haka – throat slitting. It may or may not have been a planned part as not all players did it.

A piece on the rugby this morning in the Telegraph brings up a valid point that should perhaps have been more thought out by the Blues prior to the game. The writer points out the haka ending with the throat slitting gesture was inappropriate for the game today.

It is in premium, but the relevant part is below:

“Nobody wants it to turn into an international incident, but surely someone in the Blues set-up should have spotted the tasteless juxtaposition.

Holding a minute’s silence for the victims of the Manchester bomb and the London knife attacks and then, immediately afterwards, performing a tribal dance which concludes with a collection of throat-slitting gestures in the direction of the British and Irish opposition.

At the very best it could be described as inappropriate.

It was a real shame, because the Blues had put plenty of work into their bespoke haka to honour those recently departed, including Jonah Lomu. The intention had clearly been uplifting and positive. Alas, the exact opposite proved the case to many of us.”

He has a very good point, considering some of the victims on Saturday night had their throats slit this is something that would not – and probably did not – play well to a British audience. Some in NZ would no doubt take exception to being told this, and get stuck in about what it means and how the British are being culturally insensitive and whatever else the liberals like to say when the Maori culture is being criticised by the British, but I would say that the Blues were being insensitive to their visitors whose homeland had suffered two horrific terror attacks, one which involved peoples throats being cut. It isn’t always about what the reality is, but how it is seen and viewed.

Yes, a very good point. The throat slitting gesture in a haka has been controversial in the past. It should have been obvious it could be seen in a poor light, especially after the London attacks.

It wasn’t all players that did the gesture but from the video at least one did:


Many people find the haka as confrontational and violent at the best of times.

Stuff had a very different take on the haka: Tears from Heaven as Blue haka recalls dearly departed

It was a warm welcome, a chilling challenge, a fond farewell; most of all it was lump-in-the-throat emotion.

It was the first Blues haka, the first haka the British and Irish Lions have faced from a Super Rugby side.

Led by Ihaia West, it was a welcome to 23 men in red, a farewell to two rugby greats who many times played in blue.

On the ground where thousands attended Jonah Lomu’s funeral in 2015, the Blues’ haka paid tribute to the memory of the winger who 20 years earlier reshaped rugby by running around and over several boot-clad unfortunates at the Rugby World Cup.

He Toa Takitini started in the circle the Blues had formed as homage was paid to British terrorism victims, with one minute’s silence.

It was first time the Lions had faced the traditional Maori war dance outside All Blacks tests and the New Zealand Maori.

“We realised we had something missing when we lost a couple of really important players from here – Kurtis Haiu and Jonah Lomu,” Blues high performance manager Tony Hanks said.

He Toa Takitini means “The Strength of Many” reflecting the many cultures in the Blues squad.

A significant part of rugby culture, especially in international games, should be considering your opponents and not making it all about yourself.

A tasteless gesture is poor form under any circumstance, and the throat slitting gesture was quite inappropriate.

Here is the haka performed by the Blues:


Haka contrasts

The All Blacks have been doing hakas before rugby tests for yonks, to varying degrees of ability and commitment.

Television focus has changed them substantially. Hakas are now presented as an essential part of pre-game entertainment.

(I don’t care about the haka or the anthems before tests, they are time for me to get myself stocked up with refreshments and organised before sitting down to watch the kick-off.)

Here are a few hakas over the last century.


It looked weird for a start but they got into it more as they went. Very few Maori in the team in those days.


That’s about 1973, before a match against the British Barbarians. It’s an insult to hakas, to Maori and to the All Blacks – but it’s hilarious. Most of them seemed to have little idea what they were doing.

Polynesians were a rarity in the All Blacks in the 1970s but the parents of players of the future were flooding into New Zealand then.


Led by the great Tana Umaga, who put a lot of passion into this haka and into his rugby.

All Blacks versus Tonga

The last pool game for the All Blacks and Tonga kicks of soon, at 8 am NZ time.

One bonus point is all New Zealand needs to guarantee topping the pool, but they are expected to win and get a four try bonus.

How they play will be scrutinised to assess whether they are looking like cup winners or not. All they have to do is get through this game with a win, some credit for improvement and not too many injuries and they will be on track to front up in the play offs.

Their quarter final opponent will be the loser of the France-Ireland on Monday morning (NZ time) – that means the All Blacks have a extra two days to recover.

Tonga have won one game, against Namibia, and with a bonus point win could come second in the pool in the unlikely event that Argentina lose against Namibia and get no bonus points.

They need to win or have a draw with a four try bonus to take over thirds place from Georgia. That’s unlikely.

Tonga will be playing for pride and will be hoping to give the All Blacks a solid workout. Any tries will be applauded.

If you tune in a few minutes before 8 you will see a rarity – a dual haka preliminary. Or should that be a duel haka?