On Mana

I’m wading in on the debate around the Topless Haka Photo from the UK:


Some kapa haka experts have come out and expressed offence over this. For context, this is going in a calendar raising money for breast cancer in Britain. I can’t say I’m offended by this. As Peter Sharples of the Maori Party pointed out – it’s important to be able to laugh at one’s culture from time to time.

For those not familiar with haka, see wikipedia

It’s important to note that haka are strong expressions of mana and different groups all have their own. The most commonly seen one is Ka Mate (the All Black Rugby haka that has subsequently been embodied by the rest of New Zealand sport) attributed to Te Rauparaha that is being parodied above. It is understandable that people think that this is the haka, but that’s not the case.

There are a number of haka videos on youtube (and I encourage you to view them all) but I present my favourite, the New Zealand Army Haka:

This is right at the ‘war dance’ end of the haka spectrum. Note the pride and passion. This is what mana really is. I doubt the soldiers here feel particularly threatened or offended by that photo.


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