Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Haka law passes in Parliament

Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

A law setting out legal rights of Ngati Toa Rangatira over the haka Ka Mate Ka Mate was passed in Parliament today but nothing will change for the All Blacks, Army or Police or other groups performing the haka.

The law specifically says the right of attribution do not apply to performances of the haka.


But it will allow the iwi to get recognition or reach agreements when it is being used for commercial gain.

Iwi leader Matui Rei told the Herald the law "recognises the mana of Ngati Toa."

He would be surprised if anybody was upset by that.

"There has never been an issue about recognition as far as the All Blacks have been concerned or the New Zealand Rugby Union."

It already attributed the haka to Te Rauparaha on its programmes.

The tribe was happy that other sports teams used it and it had a good relationship with the Army and Police.

There had been some "awful" example of where the haka had been used to sell products.

"Most New Zealanders would not be happy seeing that done."

Mr Rei said the bill paves the way for other tribes to seek similar recognition for things that they thought were important.

The new law on the haka contains a schedule setting out the history of Te Rauparaha and the life and death circumstances in which he composed the haka.


Under the new law, the tribe has the right to have it acknowledged that Te Rauparaha was the composer of the haka and was a chief of Ngati Toa Rangatira.

The right of attribution can be waived if there is a written agreement with the iwi.

There is no immediate penalty for non-compliance although the iwi can seek a declaratory judgment and order from the courts for compliance, and failure to comply could result in the open-ended penalties that may be applied by judges for contempt of court. The court could also award costs.

The "Haka Ka Mate Attribution Bill" was passed without dissent.

The law says attribution applies in three circumstances:

- Any publication of Ka Mate for commercial purposes;

- Any communication of Ka Mate to the public;

- Any film that includes Ka Mate and is shown in public or is issued to the public.

It also stipulates when the right of attribution need not apply:

- Any performance of Ka Mate including by a kapa haka group;

- Any use for educational purposes of anything that includes Ka Mate;

- Anything made for the purpose of criticism, review or reporting news;

- Any communication to the public of a performance or something made for criticism, review or news reporting for a purpose that is not commercial.

The haka settlement is part of a wider Treaty of Waitangi settlement between the Crown and Ngati Toa, an iwi whose territory stretches from Horowhenua to the upper South Island.

Treaty Negotiations Minister and Attorney General Chris Finlayson described Mr Rei as "New Zealand best bush lawyer."

Maori affairs Minister Pita Sharples described the Ka Mate haka as "a triumphant, defiant celebration of life over death".

"The words have come to define the human spirit; fearless, ingenious straight up."

"The haka Ka Mate is our most powerful icon and symbol for New Zealand's most favourite past time, punching above our weight."

The bill would give impetus for those who performed Ka Mate to do so properly.

Labour's Shane Jones said it was important to have the words of the haka read into the record of Parliament and so recited the haka in his speech.

National's Tau Henare called for greater education in schools of New Zealand's history.

- NZ Herald

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