US commentator and podcast host Joe Rogan has apologised to any offended New Zealanders after calling the haka “stupid”.
Rogan took aim at the traditional Maori war cry on a podcast with actor Hannibal Buress, attacking the haka of the New Zealand national basketball team – the Tall Blacks – in their 2014 Basketball World Cup game against the United States.
“This is ridiculous, they’re playing basketball. You’re playing NBA superstars you f**king dummies… It seems stupid.
“It’s a performance art. The other players clapped. They’re like ‘good job children!'”
After receiving criticism for his comments, Rogan walked it back yesterday on social media.
“Being American I’m ignorant to what the haka means to the culture of the people of New Zealand, and unfortunately I pissed some people off by joking around, and for that I sincerely apologise.”
The cultural advisor for the Tall Blacks, former player Paora Winitana, helped create the new Tall Blacks haka and says that Rogan’s comments are an opportunity to educate people about the importance of the haka.
“It’s not new for us to get responses like this from different countries, players and people. When you get situations like this where people don’t know what it’s about, it creates an awesome opportunity to teach.”
Winitana explained to the Herald the meaning of the Tall Blacks’ haka – Tu Kaha O Pango Te Kahikatea – and how it draws inspiration from Māori culture and the story of Tāne.
“Our haka talks about that story and how the Tall Blacks go on a journey, every year as the small nation that we are, and we overcome great odds and great challenges. We talk about how in order for us to overcome these things, we have to rely on our current strength but also the strength of our culture, our tradition and how that propels us forward and gives us strength to overcome these great odds.”
Winitana believes that through these experiences, more people can learn about the Māori culture and the meaning of the haka.
“If they are willing to take the time out to listen and learn, then they’ll realise this is just more than something they do before a game, it’s about who we are as a people.
“We can share our culture with these people, we can help, to possibly avoid situations like this going forward, but there’s a lot of work to be done.”
New Zealand Herald – Top Stories