Haka is far more than just an angry war dance, says expert Tapeta Wehi.

It's about connection, he says, to the land, to one another. It can be used to address issues, whether they be social, political or even environmental.

"Haka for us [Māori] is something that is ingrained within," Wehi said.

"Haka isn't just about angry words, it's more about sending a message. We're very passionate and that's our way of portraying a message."

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So when the Vodafone Warriors and major sponsor Best Foods asked him to create a haka for them, Wehi wanted to portray a message of unity and strength.

Stuck in Australia because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Warriors have been away from family and friends since early May.

Tapeta Wehi leads the Best Foods 100-strong Covid-19 haka. Photo / Supplied
Tapeta Wehi leads the Best Foods 100-strong Covid-19 haka. Photo / Supplied

Biosecurity restrictions mean teams in the NRL are playing in empty stadiums and not even at their home grounds in some cases - most notably the Warriors.

In a message of support amid the pandemic, a group 100-strong converged on the home of the Warriors - Mt Smart Stadium - to perform the haka Tu Mai Nga Tama Toa! — Rise Up, The Warriors! as a tribute.

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"The feedback we've had from some of the playing group that's seen [the video] was fantastic, it really hit the mark," Warriors manager Glen Critchley said.

"Seeing the guys perform it for the first time, on Sunday, was incredibly powerful."

A video of the haka will be played to the rest of the Warriors before they leave the team hotel before their match against the Melbourne Storm tomorrow.

The match at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Kogarah, Sydney, will be the first match at the helm for Warriors interim-coach Todd Payten.

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Payten comes in to replace former head coach Stephen Kearney who was sacked after the Warriors loss 40-12 to South Sydney.

Haka's aren't just an angry war dance, says Tapeta Wehi. Photo / Supplied
Haka's aren't just an angry war dance, says Tapeta Wehi. Photo / Supplied

Wehi, the chief executive of The Haka Experience, self-proclaimed "leaguey" and Warriors fan, hoped people would get behind the haka.

Getting over adversity was the focal point of the specially written haka but it was focused on coming together as a result of the pandemic, not the sacking of a coach.

"I didn't even know about Kearney when I wrote the haka," Wehi said. "The first part talks about the pandemic and what it's done to us as a country.

Resilience, unity and strength were key focuses of the new haka. Photo / Supplied
Resilience, unity and strength were key focuses of the new haka. Photo / Supplied

"If ever there was a time for New Zealanders to come together it's now. I'm using haka as a platform to share a message of strength, of aroha and resilience.

"It's about the mammoth trial or journey that we've come out of, and us as a country. That's why unity, resilience, strength, and all that stuff comes to mind."

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Head of Best Foods New Zealand Matt Rigby said the haka turned out great and they were ecstatic with the end result.

"The story behind it and how it came out was better than what a lot of us anticipated, they did a fantastic job," he said.

It was the company's first year with the Warriors and it was clear to Rigby the Warriors' fans were "very loyal and really supportive".

To help show support towards the Warriors, Best Foods also held a socially led competition where fans spent lunch with their favourite players via Zoom.

Iwingaro Matthews, Enoka Wehi and Tiahomai Henare-Heke performing. Photo / Supplied
Iwingaro Matthews, Enoka Wehi and Tiahomai Henare-Heke performing. Photo / Supplied

Wehi asked the fans to get behind the team, who bravely crossed the ditch to compete in a competition without their families or knowing exactly what was in front of them.

People should not only watch and listen to the haka but also read the words and think about what it means and they would be able to "feel the wairua" (spirit), Wehi said.

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Tu Mai Nga Tama Toa! — Rise Up, The Warriors!

Maranga mai e te iwi e

Tukitukia, werowerohia te mate urutā

Rere ana te mataku, rere ana te wehiwehi

Ka mate ka mate, ka ora ka ora

Tu mai nga tama toa,

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Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui e

Ahakoa he tawhiti te whanau,

Kore kore rawa e tu mokemoke

He matenga poto, he oranga roa

Tu mai nga tama toa, Kia kaha, kia toa

Kia kotahi tatou

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Ka mate, ka mate ka ora, ka ora

The Warriors play the Storm tomorrow, with a new interim coach. Photo / Supplied
The Warriors play the Storm tomorrow, with a new interim coach. Photo / Supplied
Tu Mai Nga Tama Toa! - Rise Up, The Warriors! was written especially for the Warriors. Photo / Supplied
Tu Mai Nga Tama Toa! - Rise Up, The Warriors! was written especially for the Warriors. Photo / Supplied

Aotearoa it's time to rise up!

We are being tested by this pandemic

The unknown causing apprehension and fear

Will we perish? No, we will live

Rise up the warriors

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Be strong, be determined and be brave

Although you are far from your families

You have never been alone

A short sacrifice for long term benefit

Rise up warriors, be strong, be brave

We are in this together

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Will we perish? No, we will live, we will live.