Brazilian companies selling corporate retreats where participants can learn haka have been slammed for "blatant cultural appropriation".

The founder of one of the companies, Haka Training, apologised for "hurting Māori" when approached by the Herald, stating the term "haka" is commonly used in Brazil out of love for Māori and respect for the ceremonial dance.

But Māori cultural advisor Karaitiana Taiuru says they, and similar company Haka Brazil, need to stop appropriating Māori culture and change their names.

It comes as a group of lawyers in France have also come under fire for performing a haka as part of their protest against pension reforms.


Haka Training, based in Brazil's largest city Sao Paolo, offers professional management and emotional strategy training, incorporating haka into its full-day workshops that can cost as much as NZ$180.

Another Sao Paolo-based company Haka Brazil offers similar services, charging around NZ$40 for its classes that last a couple of hours.

Haka Brazil even took part in a TEDx event in Sao Paolo in 2018, where dozens of people performed a version of Ka Mate on stage, to much amusement from the audience.

Both websites and social media accounts for the companies feature dozens of images of Māori performing haka, along with the All Blacks and Māori All Blacks.

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Haka Training founder Jivan Pramod told the Herald he was a trainer in management and emotional strategy, and discovered haka through videos of All Blacks performances on the internet.

Without knowing the importance that haka had for its people, he felt the actions of the haka produced "unparalleled results", and incorporated it into his day workshops.

Pramod said he only charged money for those who could afford it, and was not making any profit from his classes.


He was also not aware of the offence he was causing Māori, and planned to visit New Zealand this year to deepen his understanding.

"In Brazil, there are bars, gyms, with the name haka, I didn't think it could be misinterpreted for calling my program that way, or maybe I lacked more insight.

"I am a big fan of the Māori culture of haka, but unfortunately I did not find anyone who could help or teach me more about these beautiful people close to where I live."

An ex-pat living in Sao Paolo told the Herald haka was very popular over there, and Māori groups had travelled there to put on performances.

Pramod said he'd been receiving hate messages recently, and said he regretted not learning more about Māori before starting his program.

"I am very sad to have caused so much discomfort and stimulated an opposite feeling in people that I thought about asking for help."

The Herald could not reach Haka Brazil for comment.

Māori cultural advisor Karaitiana Taiuru said the practices of both companies were offensive to Māori on multiple levels.

"It is insulting to the iwi where those haka originated as it mocks their histories.

"It mocks our traditional beliefs - haka is not a game to be used as entertainment, with people laughing at them, and for corporate training.

"And it is also about tribal ownership. There are stories behind every haka, and it is up to the tribe how those stories are shared, and in what form."

This was in contrast to haka taught in New Zealand to tourists by iwi operations themselves, or corporates, such as Spark, which has its own Māori strategy and developed its own haka and waiata.

"In those situations it is their own haka they are teaching, they are not appropriating it from elsewhere," Taiuru said.

Haka Brazil had removed some content last year after they were exposed in a Māori TV piece for cultural appropriation, but it appeared the message didn't last.

"Normally when companies don't realise what they are doing is OK, they apologise and stop it, or remove the content - but not in this case," Taiuru said.

"This is blatant cultural appropriation and very offensive to Māori, especially after they have already had this explained to them.

"They have simply taken an aspect of Māori culture that is very sacred and meaningful to Māori, and corporatised, hijacked and sexualised it for their own misguided and lack of cultural identity."

Even more concerning, on Haka Brazil's Facebook and Instagram accounts were "sexualised" images depicting wāhine Māori, Taiuru said.

It comes as a group of lawyers in France have come under fire for performing a haka as part of their protest against pension reforms.

In a column for the Guardian, New Zealand political commentator Morgan Godfery called it a "protest gimmick, a way to jimmy up attention".

"One general rule applies: don't perform a haka you were never given permission to."