Audrey Young 's Opinion

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

Audrey Young: Haka coaching goes down a treat in DC

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Schoolboy rugby players in Washington DC respond enthusiastically to the New Zealanders' coaching. Photo / Supplied
Schoolboy rugby players in Washington DC respond enthusiastically to the New Zealanders' coaching. Photo / Supplied

The Air Force kapa haka group and band spent several hours yesterday with a couple of schoolboy rugby teams in Washington DC, including a deaf team, playing touch rugby and teaching them the Ka Mate haka.

First of all they were told of the legend of how the haka's composer, Te Rauparaha, was saved from enemies by hiding in a hole covered by the skirts of a chief's daughter.

It was a lot to take in but everything was translated into sign language for the benefit of the team from the nearby Model High School for the Deaf.

Then they split into teams and the Air Force's Maori cultural adviser, George Mana, spent half an hour schooling a highly enthusiastic deaf team, section by section.

Some attempted the chant, aided by the Air Force, and all did the actions, with the jump as the final flourish.

The band and kapa haka group of 24 have been performing in the city over the past week, dubbed New Zealand week, to coincide with the US-NZ Pacific Partnership Forum, a biennial business-led meeting.

The rugby field was an American football field near the Galludet University for the Deaf.

The hearing team is coached by Tal Bayer, who said he was introduced to rugby when his father, who was in the military, was based in Britain.

He brought his team out from the Perry Street School, in the town centre, where he is sports director and has coached rugby since 1999.

It was a small school "but we continue to thrive and to kick butt".

Mr Bayer pointed to greater freedoms for individuals in rugby.

"Once the game starts, kids make decisions themselves," he said.

"I think that is something that is lost with a lot of youth sports today. Kids are no longer in control."

Rugby is new to the deaf school and it is coached by Mark Burke, a friend of Mr Bayer's.

- NZ Herald

Audrey Young

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

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor, a job she has held since 2003. She is responsible for the Herald’s Press Gallery team. She first joined the New Zealand Herald in 1988 as a sub-editor after the closure of its tabloid rival, the Auckland Sun. She switched to reporting in 1991 as social welfare and housing reporter. She joined the Herald’s Press Gallery office in 1994. She has previously worked as a journalism tutor at Manukau Technical Institute, as member of the Newspapers in Education unit at Wellington Newspapers and as a teacher in Wellington. She was a union nominee on the Press Council for six years.

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