After video of its pre-game haka was seen by many people around the world, Arizona's players will no longer perform the ritual.
The Wildcats lost to UCLA in a nationally-televised game on ABC on Saturday night. Video of the haka was seen by people not only in the United States but in New Zealand and other countries. And some familiar with the haka and its origins weren't too happy with it.
They believe Arizona doesn't perform the dance properly. The haka that Arizona performs is the Ka Mate haka, which is nearly 200 years old. From Stuff.co.NZ:
Ka Mate was composed around 1820 by Ngati Toa chief Te Rauparaha.
Ngati Toa runanga chair Taku Parai described the performance as "pathetic" and thought they should stop until they could do the haka justice.
"They certainly don't do it properly," he said. "Just out of courtesy, you would expect them to do it at least 98 per cent properly, if not a hundred per cent."
A petition (what else?) was started by a New Zealander who is currently a professor at California State. A spokesperson for Arizona acknowledged the dissatisfaction when confirming to the New Zealand Herald that the school would no longer be doing the ritual.
"The Arizona football program has a strong lineage of Polynesian student-athletes, and in 2009, a group of players wished to share this aspect of their culture with their teammates and community.
"As a result, the Ka Mate haka, which had been popularized throughout the world by the All Blacks and recognized by other members of the team, became part of the program's on-field pregame preparation starting that year."
He said in sharing the haka with the members of the football programme, the players' intent was to show the pride they have in their Polynesian heritage.
"Even though that intent remains the same today, we've been made aware that a segment of the population is unhappy that the haka is being performed. As a result, we have decided to discontinue the activity."
The All Blacks are the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team, the team that originally popularized the pregame haka. And as you can see from Arizona's statement or would know if you've followed Arizona closely in recent years, the team's use of the haka is not new. It seems that the honor of being on ABC's Saturday Night Football led to more attention than Arizona was expecting.
The Wildcats aren't the only program that does the haka before games either. BYU and Hawaii, other schools with Polynesian players, have been performing the haka. Plus, the Wildcats also have a "how to" video for the Ka Mate haka widely available on YouTube. It was posted over three years ago.
Parai told Stuff.co that it would be best if Arizona got some tutoring when it came to the dance. Rather than discontinuing the pregame ritual altogether, perhaps the post-Week 4 feedback is an opportunity for Arizona to get some tips from those intimately familiar with the haka and modify it for everyone's benefit.
For more Arizona news, visit GoAZCats.com.
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