The Blues players will call upon the strength of their ancestors and that of their wider community as they lay down a challenge against the British and Irish Lions in what promises to be an emotional pre-match haka at Eden Park tomorrow night.
It was composed by Whiria Meltzer and Ruka Makiha, two friends called upon by Blues coach Tana Umaga to devise a suitable challenge before what is the Lions' first match against a New Zealand Super Rugby team. It will be the first time the Blues have performed a pre-match haka.
Called He Toa Takitini (The Strength of Many), the haka, which will be led by halfback Sam Nock and first-five Ihaia West, acknowledges those players who have previously represented the Blues, and the historical significance of Auckland.
Meltzer, a 26-year-old Northland rugby representative with a background in kapa haka which stretches back to early childhood (his family group is Te Waka Huia), said it also "encourages us as young men to strive for excellence and never waiver from a challenge...we shall strive on and endure to the very end. We will lay the challenge and never back down".
Meltzer, who went to Maori college Te Rangi Aniwaniwa in Kaitaia, has composed haka for primary schools in the Far North and also the Northland rugby team, said his name was put forward to Umaga by some of the Northland players in the Blues squad, including loose forward Kara Pryor.
"It's a sacred thing, the haka . . . it's not easy to compose," Meltzer said.
"It was a privilege to be amongst the Blues boys and management - I was out of my comfort zone, really."
Asked whether the players picked it up quickly, he said: "They did, actually. They picked it up well because all the boys were buying into it - they were in the same waka, the same boat. When it's like that it's easy to teach and it's easy to learn as well."
Unfortunately for Meltzer, an outside back on the fringes of the New Zealand sevens squad this year, he won't be able to see his creation play out in the flesh. He has tickets to the game but has already committed to attending Northland training in Whangarei ahead of their pre-season match against North Harbour next Monday.
"I'm quite gutted I can't watch it live," he said. "It's a hard one. My partner is going to go on behalf of me and she will record it and tell me how it goes."
New Zealand's four other Super Rugby teams, the Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders, have also been given the opportunity to do a haka before facing the Lions over the next few weeks, but not all will do so.
The Blues will be fired up by the example set by the Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei in what was a narrow win by the Lions in their tour opener. And, with He Toa Takitini ringing around a near sold-out Eden Park, they should be ready.
He toa takitini - The Strength of Many
"The haka talks about us as a team and also or wider community. Acknowledging those who have worn the jersey before us. The haka talks about the historical significance of Tamaki from which Auckland takes its name Tamaki Makaurau. Our team values that have been instilled into the franchise. The haka also encourages us as young men to strive for excellence and to never waiver from a challenge. We are the descendants of our ancestors and we shall strive on and endure to the very end. We will lay the challenge and never back down."
Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi
He toa takitini kē
Nei rā ngā uri, ngā wheinga
O Tāmaki te makau o te tini
E waha ana i ngā manako o te iwi eKia tū mārohirohi
Kia manawa piharau
Kua karapinepine ngā tai e whā
Ki runga i te karanga
Kia puta te ihu
kia rongo i te wairua o ngā tūpuna
E kore, kore, kore raua mātou
E whati, e mōnehunehu
Ka ū tonu ki te kaupapa
Mō ake, ake, ake tonu atu e hī
My strength is not my own
But the strength of many
We are the descendants
of Tāmaki (Auckland) adored by the many
carrying the aspirations of the people
Endure to the end
The four tides have gathered together
To heed the call that the competitive spirit possesses
Only one shall push through
We feel the presence of those who have passed on as motivation
We shall not break, we shall not fade in what we do
We will hold fast to the goal
and we will never let go
Composers - Whiria Meltzer and Ruka Makiha