The University of Hawai'i football team are STILL doing the Kapa O Pango haka that was written especially for the All Blacks New Zealand rugby team.

Two months ago, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Honolulu Advertiser, (someone posted it on the thread about this issue that was closed down) I've called radio stations here in Hawai'i and I've been telling anyone who will listen - and still, it's like whispering into the wind.

I was previously just concerned that the Warriors respect the haka - get one of their own, learn it properly - not just the actions but the words and the meanings behind the words - but after reading some of their statements, I now realise that they will NEVER respect it. They just think it's a cool thing to do to bring the team together and entertain their fans.

Click on this link for last week's article:

And for those of you who are to busy to click on the link, let me highlight one of the points in the article I have a problem with...

- While acknowledging there are similarities, linebacker Timo Paepule said, the Warriors' version is not step-for-step the same as the All-Blacks' haka.

"We put in a little part in there that talks about the Warriors," Paepule said. "(The All Blacks) don't say that."

... "We have guys from Polynesia. We want people to know the haka is part of our heritage." -

OK, changing a few words (substituting Hawai'i for Aotearoa) does not change the fact that it is a blatant RIP OFF! It is not YOUR heritage... it's MINE and I don't appreciate you passing it off as your own and teaching it to your team mates like you have a right to it.

Many of the posters on this board and the Rainbow Sports Network board just think the haka is a cool thing for the players to do for team unity and to enterain the fans but to us Maori, it is so much more than that.

It took a (so far anonymous) UH lecturer to make the UH team & staff see that what they are doing could have legal repercussions. This is not just fun and games! The players are trying to pass it off with the "can a dance be copyrighted" line - actually, intellectual property rights of indigenous peoples is getting more protection thanks to more awareness and indigenous lawyers using existing laws and passing new laws to fight this kind of erroneous cultural representation.

I don't want to be the radical who spoils the party, but what is happening to the integrity of my Maori people if we let this happen? I believe that we (the Maori in this community and all over the world), as globally aware and internationally involved individuals, have a responsibility as "kaitiaki" (guardians) of our culture, which is a taonga (treasure) passed down to us from our ancestors and we must exercise our rights to stamp out any form of exploitation and misuse of our heritage.

We are trying to do this through collective action, diplomatic activism and EDUCATION! I am trying to use the media and the internet to have my voice heard and to put a face to this issue - that even though we wish the team well, we do not agree with their misuse of our culture.

Sadly, this is not just happening in Hawai'i - but all over the world. See this link for a story out of Texas about a high school football team there performing a Tongan war dance - well, it's a war dance alright but it is another Maori haka, not TONGAN:

The Sipi Tau IS a Tongan war dance that is performed by the Tongan rugby team before their matches so why these young Tongans in Texas didn't teach their team mates their own dance is puzzling. I guess other Polynesian mens 'dances' just aren't agressive enough in getting the message across.

Just because we are all Polynesians, does not make this right. We each have our own languages and distinct cultures that need to be cherished and held on to. What bothers me is that some Polynesians think it's acceptable to appropriate other Pacific symbols without first educating themselves on the significance and meaning behind these symbols, or affording them the respect that we demand of non-Pacific islanders and then hide behind the "we're all Polynesian" excuse. The old adage "the oppressed in turn opress" rings true when I hear that one.

Is there no kumu hula here that is willing to write a chant for the UH team and teach it to them? Hawaiians are a proud people too - the esteemed culture here should be celebrated and your football teams should reflect the place that they come from.

I don't mean to be anti-American about this either because it really is a global problem. From Fiat commercials in Italy incorrectly portraying women doing the haka (that one was banned in New Zealand) to Lego using Maori words and concepts in their Bionicles series to the "Maori" mix brand of cigarettes out of Israel.

By using the haka, the Warriors (and other Hawai'i high school football teams) claim to celebrate us Maori and I assume we are supposed to feel flattered. Well, I did for a while but now I see that there is no respect in this case. I'm just getting tired of it. People with no understanding using bits of my culture as it suits them without having any knowledge of what they are doing. I feel strongly that I must stand up and say NO! I will not just sit here quietly and let you "rip off" my culture.

Mauri ora,