One of England's top premiership soccer clubs is to perform a flippant haka before its season-opening game this week, despite legal protests that it insults Maori.

The lawyer spearheading Maori intellectual property claims is writing to Everton Football Club, warning that its "bastardised" haka trespasses on Maori rights and disrespects their heritage.

But the club is unrepentant about its use of the "he ha" haka, part of the team's new "All Black" look and unveiled three days ago with its team strip.

Hired Maori dancers will perform the haka as Everton and Arsenal run on to Goodison Park in Liverpool on Saturday, the opening day of England's Premier League club competition.

The game, the most important match-up of the opening day, is likely to feature football internationals such as England prodigy Theo Walcott, Spaniard Cesc Fabregas and Australia's Tim Cahill.

It will be watched by television viewers around the world.

Intellectual property lawyer Maui Solomon said he was appalled by the haka. "I think it's showing cultural disrespect to Maori. People overseas need to know Maori culture isn't just up for grabs."

Solomon, who represents three iwi in an intellectual property rights claim before the Waitangi Tribunal, said it was also damaging to New Zealand's "cultural brand".

"This is the thin edge of the wedge. People all over the world are appropriating Maori culture for commercial purposes."

Everton officials should have checked with the New Zealand Rugby Union or a Maori authority first, Solomon said.

Performances of haka by overseas pop stars and advertisers have sparked anger before, and lawyers for the Ngati Toa iwi fought unsuccessfully to trademark the All Black Ka Mate haka, written by Te Rauparaha.

In February, the Government and Ngati Toa agreed a Treaty settlement that recognised the iwi's authorship of Ka Mate. The iwi has agreed to the All Blacks' continuing use of the haka.

Everton FC spokesman Mark Rowan said there was no intention to be disrespectful in the club performing a haka.

"As a club we understand what the haka represents and we simply wanted to celebrate the launch of our new all black playing strip with a dedicated Everton haka," he said.

"Since the haka took place on Thursday we have received nothing but positive comments and we do plan to perform the Everton haka again."

The club's website described the new strip as a "dynamic new 'All Black' look."

NZRU commercial manager Paul Dalton said intellectual property rights around the All Blacks were monitored carefully.

"Our main concern here would be making sure there's no confusion for our fans," he said. "Everton's new pink and black strip, at first look, doesn't look like anything All Black fans should be worried about."

Radio host Willie Jackson is one Maori not concerned about the haka. The English lyrics didn't "mangle the language."

"I only get angry if they deliberately set out to make what we're doing look stupid. I don't think we need to get too precious."

* Words to the Everton haka:
Everton! Everton! He, ha, he, ha!
It's a grand old team, he, ha!
It's a grand old team to support
And if you know your history
it's enough to make your heart go he, ha!

* Maori mimics - from pop stars to adverts

Previous attempts to hijack the haka have ranged from impromptu performances by pop stars to alcohol ads. Earlier this year the Royal Shakespeare company caused a ruckus by including a drunken haka in a performance of The Taming of the Shrew.

An English television ad featuring women in bikinis performing a haka was pulled off air in 2001 after more than 100 complaints.

New Zealand High Commissioner Paul East was among those to complain about the alcopop ad featuring the tag-line, "Go Native". In the same year, Ngati Toa objected to a topless version of Ka Mate, to be performed by dancers at an Auckland strip club.

In 2002 the BBC was criticised for featuring a Welsh rugby team performing the haka in an ad. The use of moko in a French fashion collection has also come under fire and pop group the Spice Girls were criticised for performing a haka in Bali in 1997.