The national anthem and the haka need a word of sympathy. The anthem was cruelly mistreated at two provincial rugby finals last weekend and Olympian Val Adams has made known her annoyance with a haka performed at the wrong time.
At Pukekohe last Friday night, and again at Christchurch the night after, the anthem was entrusted to young soloists to sing unaccompanied. The result in each case was painful.
If the NZ Rugby Union does not think the domestic finals are worthy of a professional performance of the anthem, it should drop it for these occasions.
To put straining amateurs in front of a national television audience and have them do their best with a difficult dirge is not fair to them or to those watching.
The haka that offended Valerie Adams happened at the Beijing Olympics when she had won gold and New Zealand's manager, Dave Currie, led a performance in her honour at 2am in the village.
A haka is a fine expression of the national spirit. It is stirring, authentic and graceful in an aggressive way. Popularised by the All Blacks, who now do it properly, and adopted by schools for everything from sports to choral festivals, a generation of New Zealanders can now perform a haka reasonably proficiently.
But not too often.
It is at risk of being devalued in the hands of enthusiasts. It is a powerful statement of pride and purpose when performed at the right moment.
At other times it can jar like a flat anthem.
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