‘Inappropriate’ use of haka by Italian women’s team leads to calls for more Maori education

A former Football Fern has called on New Zealand athletes to receive more education on Maori practices following the “inappropriate” use of the haka by an Italian women’s football team.

Kristy Hill, the New Zealand Professional Footballers Association’s player representative of Maori descent, urged national sporting bodies to “step up to the challenge”. after a clip from a documentary about the Juventus women’s team shared on social media showed players performing the Ka Mate haka.

Juventus defender Lisa Bottin revealed the Serie A champions had been performing the ritual since “the first day” the club was born five years ago, after being taught by New Zealand international Katie Rood.

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Rood played for the Turin giants in their inaugural season and the 29-year-old confirmed on Twitter that she had led the haka during her brief spell in Italy.

“I’ve never really talked about it much because I was worried about cultural appropriation, but there was no way around it: before every game, the team would shut out the coaches and force me to lead a haka,” Rood, who recently joined Hearts Scottish. he wrote in a tweet that he later deleted.

“I wasn’t sure if they continued like this after I left the club. [the following season] until i have seen [sic] East!”

However, Rood admitted that his decision to lead the haka had “played on my conscience” ever since.

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Juventus women's defender Lisa Boattin revealed that the team performs a haka before their matches.

Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Juventus women’s defender Lisa Boattin revealed that the team performs a haka before their matches.

Speaking for Rood, Hill said Stuff that Rood planned to apologize to Ngāti Toa iwi, who owns the intellectual property rights to the Ka Mate haka, and hoped his experience would be used as “an opportunity to educate” others.

“From the moment he did it, he felt bad, and he’s been playing with her ever since. Five years later, he’s playing with her mind because he felt bad and didn’t know what to do about it,” Hill said.

“What am I doing, a Pākehā girl from New Zealand teaching Italians the Ka Mate haka? Is it appropriate to do it? I had so many questions.

“And I said to him, you never had the tools to be able to deal with this. How do we expect you to be able to deal with something that’s actually quite complex, with proper integrity, particularly when we see haka everywhere?

“Athletes are quasi-ambassadors for the country. They’re not given the tools to be able to navigate safely through these kinds of problems until they happen.”

Hill said Rood felt compelled to continue the pre-match ritual when, after Juventus lost a game, her teammates blamed her for not leading the haka after she was dropped from the team.

From then on, it became a superstition for the whole team, and Rood felt “pressured by the coach, by the captain to do it”.

“It just snowballed from there…and then the documentary reared its head,” Hill explained. “She apologizes to Ngāti Toa and acknowledges the forces that were at play for her to be in a new country, not feeling like she was going to be in front of the public at all.”

Hill blamed national sports organizations such as Sport New Zealand and NZ Football for failing to provide New Zealand athletes with the necessary education to deal with these situations abroad.

By failing to ensure that “the cultural integrity of these Māori practices are preserved” abroad, he argued that they had effectively transferred responsibility to the “Katie Roods of this world”.

Former Football Ferns defender Kristy Hill has called for more athlete education on Maori practices.

Andres Cornaga/Photosport

Former Football Ferns defender Kristy Hill has called for more athlete education on Maori practices.

“The All Blacks did the first haka in 1905, and it wasn’t until 2010 that they applied for permission from the Ngāti Toa. It takes a long time to figure out how to manage collective knowledge in a way that preserves the mana of the culture,” Hill said.

“From the PFA, we would expect this to be something where Sport New Zealand or national sporting organizations take up the challenge.

“I am trying to take the source of the blame back to the origins, and it goes to the government, to those who have responsibilities to the Maori. By not addressing it, Katie Rood effectively has to address it.

“And it’s not fair to a young Pākehā who is trying to make a living from football. It’s an unfair position to put our athletes in. And that creates mental discomfort. That’s the concern for us in the PFA.

Football Ferns striker Katie Rood spent a season with Italian giants Juventus, winning the Serie A title.

@Roodie_Roo/Instagram

Football Ferns striker Katie Rood spent a season with Italian giants Juventus, winning the Serie A title.

“We just can’t ignore it, we need to start providing them with resources on the ground. Not just writing strategies and plans and making designs on jerseys. They really need to deal with these issues properly.”

Hill said he has contacted the Italian Players Association to “facilitate a process with Juventus” to discuss the issue of cultural appropriation and request that the team stop using the haka.

He admitted that the Italian players probably didn’t even know that what they were doing was offensive to Maori.

“There is a lack of cultural understanding on their part and that needs to be corrected,” Hill said, confirming that the Italian Players Association representative had spoken with Juventus captain Sara Gama in England, where he currently leads Italy. in the European Championship.

“At some point, you are going to have a talk with her about these issues. Then I will make an appointment to speak with Ngāti Toa.

“That was something Katie wanted to do. Because it wasn’t just about managing the media. The second problem was, ‘what do I need to do to restore Ngāti Toa’s mana?’ And that’s why she called me.”

Meanwhile, Ngāti Toa’s Dr. Taku Parai questioned why an Italian women’s team was using their haka and urged them to stop doing so immediately, regarding the Haka Ka Mate attribution bill that came into force in 2014.

“It’s a long way from here to Italy to stop them,” said Dr. Parai. Stuff. “But we talked about it and said it was inappropriate, really.

“They don’t say the words well. I don’t know if they do any action, [as] the shooting does not take us to the locker room. But you hear the words they’re using…some of them are only half said, but you get to know that it’s Ka Mate they’re trying to replicate.

“To me, ideally, they wouldn’t.”

Ka Mate was composed by chieftain Ngāti Toa Te Rauparaha around 1820 and the government assigned the intellectual property rights to the North Island-based iwi in a landmark deal in 2009.

The Ngāti Toa have waged a long battle against the misappropriation and culturally inappropriate use of the Ka Mate haka, and last year condemned its use by anti-vaccine protesters.

Dr Parai said it did not matter if a New Zealander introduced it to the Juventus players, as the haka should only be performed by Maori. It was usually only led by women “when supporting their men” at a funeral or tangi, he added.

“But this is a completely different kettle of fish. Why couldn’t they have invented themselves or made their own? It’s something we don’t support, particularly from foreign countries and with the wording and mispronunciation.”

“It doesn’t sit well with us. It doesn’t belong to another country, it belongs here. We wouldn’t do something that belonged to them. They just wouldn’t appreciate it at all.”

The Juventus women are not the first foreign team to be accused of cultural appropriation regarding the haka.

A South African varsity rugby team came under fire for performing the Kapa O Pango last year before a Varsity Shield match, while former England running back Matt Dawson sparked outrage ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup when he led the ‘Hakarena’, a mixture. with the 1994 dance hit ‘Macarena’.