Before the England test in Hamilton the locals decided it was a good idea to let off fireworks. It looked wrong then and people felt uncomfortable, but the assumption was that it was Hamilton, so it didn’t really happen.
But this evening, before the All Blacks next home test we saw the same thing at Eden Park. So this is deliberate then.
Over the last 30 years the haka has gone on a really strange peripatetic trip from white men looking awkward, to a thing of meaning, the Buck Shelford years of looking professional, to the more recent over-choreographed theatrics best summarised by Ali Williams’s preening antics. A South Pacific version of RiverDance.
During this process the haka has drifted away from what it should be; a South Pacific cultural challenge prior to a game. It is not for sale, it has heritage, and it should not be part of traditional USA sporting type entertainment.
It is at its best at school First XV level where whole schools take part in it, at an even playing field lavel. But the use of it as a growing lop-sided psychological tool by those who control the game here has got to the point where it is just a bit silly.
Already, some sides have pointed to the injustice of the fact the haka comes after the national anthems are played, and the subsequent psychological points. These valid points are countered on the basis of cultural sensitivities. So we have to be careful here; fireworks are not part of Polynesian culture, and maximising home advantage by turning the haka into a circus like extravaganza is tacky at best.
So the cultural butchery is almost complete. Strobe lights next?
Footnote 1: The picture provided came via the Adidas Twitter account. Make of that what you will.
Footnote 2: Looks like they may get banned for other reasons