Say or write something often enough and the chances are people will start receiving it as gospel according to whatever is far from the truth.

This time the repackaged propaganda is out to arouse some sort of contemporary and mythical belief that the All Blacks' haka is nearing its use-by date in the international rugby arena.

"Respected" British journalist Peter Bills' new book, The Jersey, has reignited the debate on whether the flagship New Zealand team should be allowed to perform a pre-match ritual portrayed as archaic and, in some respects, out of touch with the mores of modern existence.

Somehow, it seems, throwing in the views of the late Sir Colin Meads and former All Black Kees Meeuws gives the anti-haka movement some sort of credibility and lends credence to such assertions.


That is, of course, not to say Sir Colin and Meeuws don't make compelling arguments on whether the traditional Maori war dance, or challenge, is "haka-ed out" or that there's a degree of overuse that is robbing it of its novelty.

New Zealand's most famous brand, the All Blacks, is fiercely guarded but, like other global ensigns, there's a risk of commercial flogging and exploitation.

But is all of that reason to suggest it should be booted to touch?

Here's my regurgitated spin on something that crops up every few years like the measles and then recedes, albeit leaving behind scars.

The haka, as it is for Pacific Island nations, is part of the fabric of a country's culture and tradition where history is passed down to generations by words and dance.

The Maori haka has stood the test of time in rugby since 1888-89 during a tour of the United Kingdom when the New Zealand Native Team became the first from a colony to perform there.

It is more than rugby titillation. It speaks volumes of the people from this land even though they aren't always indigenous.

As someone born in Fiji of Indian extraction, I still find I undergo an emotional surge when I see the Fiji rugby players perform the cibi (pronounced theembee).


Dare I say it, the haka stirs more fervour than any national anthem does. In that respect, it is sad that countries such as Australia and South Africa are poorer for not embracing a short, sweet aboriginal-type tribal chant to enhance their rugby which is undergoing a renaissance of sorts across the Tasman.

It was promising to see the Wallaroos use young girls to perform an aboriginal welcome for the Black Ferns at Sydney airport before the latter responded with a waiata on Monday as a preamble to their test this weekend.

It is the ideal entree to the main course and adds exotic cultural flavour to any competition.

I know of people who watch the ABs' haka, debate if the leader was as good as Wayne "Buck" Shelford and then do anything else but watch the rest of the footy.

Former Irish international Tony Ward claims the haka is not only a psychological weapon but also gives the All Blacks an edge as they are essentially warming up while in the process of performing it.

When has it been an offence for any player or team in any code to embrace psychological advantage?

Fans can be forgiven for thinking the haka is going to be treated like a form of banned substance that gives teams an unfair ascendancy.

The subject smacks of PC madness. It's akin to Fifa warning TV cameramen from focusing on attractive females on the park during the World Cup in Russia last month because it's chauvinistic.

What next in rugby? No more bagpipes entertainment because it may perforate the eardrums of some people?

Muzzle Welsh fans singing to lift the spirits of their countrymen before or during a match?

It's tantamount to stopping Fiji teams pointing arms skyward while praying or the rugby league parent body preventing the islanders from singing hymns because they are disrespectful to anyone who isn't religiously inclined.

All Blacks perform the haka during the Bledisloe Cup test match but there's no reason why the Wallabies should be passive bystanders at the start of a game. Photo / NZME
All Blacks perform the haka during the Bledisloe Cup test match but there's no reason why the Wallabies should be passive bystanders at the start of a game. Photo / NZME

The argument that rival nations have to wait in frigid conditions during night tests for the All Blacks to stop slapping their thighs, waving their arms and stomping their feet is equally spurious.

It's a winter sport so toughen up. In a sporting environment where TV is god in dictating terms on when a game will kick off it's a little rich to grizzle about a few minutes pre-match, which is neither here nor there.

Maybe it's time for the objecting non-haka nations to start looking outside the square to come up with novel ways of staying warm.

In fact, it's an opportune time to look at how other nations can bring more to the park to enrich the experience for the spectators.

Some allegations of "misquoting" have reportedly been levelled at Bills in his book but, that aside, let's visit another attribution.

The author alludes to how Gilbert Enoka, the All Blacks mental skills coach, believes some contemporary players abhorred the performance.

If Enoka did say that then, in defence of players, it's quite understandable.

History shows the earlier non-Maori players weren't always a visual or vocal symphony in performing the haka.

You could argue it's no different to some players who aren't comfortable about singing the national anthem.

It doesn't mean they are any less patriotic but simply feel it's best to keep their laughing gear shut rather than open it to butcher a song with millions of eyes watching them via TV.

No doubt some of them don't know the words but they are no different to those who can't see the cultural significance of haka even if they tried.

Surely, there isn't likely to be a drive to monitor how long anthems are sung for fear of the team singing first becoming disadvantaged in going cold while waiting for the opposition.