Rugby rep threatens police complaint over new haka

A grass-roots rugby representative is so upset about the 'throat-cutting' gesture in the All Blacks' new haka that he says he will lay a "threatening to kill" complaint with police if he sees the haka again.

But the Rugby Union (NZRU) says the gesture was misinterpreted.

The All Blacks performed the haka - Kapa o Pango - on Saturday before their game against Australia.

Errol Anderson, vice-president and treasurer of the Featherston Rugby Club, said yesterday the finger across the throat gesture could only be seen as a threat.

"There's only one interpretation of a throat-slitting gesture and that is a threat to kill," Mr Anderson said.

If he saw the gesture again he would resign from his position at the Featherston rugby club and make a complaint to the police.

He said he felt the gesture should be tested by the law.

"Can we all walk up to someone and run our thumb across our throat? Because in Roman days that meant stick the sword in their throat."

"All they need to do is take that little bit out, otherwise it's an awesome haka," Mr Anderson said.

Rugby Union chief executive Chris Moller said the public needed to be educated about the meaning behind the gesture.

While the haka's final movement had been described as a cut-throat gesture, its meaning within Maori culture and the tradition of haka was very different, he said.

Composer Derek Lardelli said Kapa o Pango ended with the word "Ha" which meant the breath of life.

"The words and motions represent drawing vital energy into the heart and lungs."

The right arm searched for the "Ha" on the left side of the body, Mr Lardelli said, while the head turned to the right also symbolically seeking vital energy.

The right hand hauled that energy into the pou-whakaora (the heart, lungs and air passages), then the eyes and tongue signalled that the energy had been harnessed before it was expelled with the final "Ha".

A Colmar Brunton poll of over 500 New Zealanders showed that 60 per cent favoured the use of Kapa o Pango alongside the traditional haka.

But while the majority believed Kapa o Pango was appropriate, 37 per cent also thought the final gesture should be removed.

- NZPA

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