A New Zealand Māori tribe called on anti-vaxxers to stop performing traditional haka dance at protests

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  • A Māori tribe in New Zealand is demanding that anti-vaxxers stop performing the haka at protests.

  • The haka is a ceremonial battle dance that includes moves like foot-stamping and tongue protrusions.

  • A tribe leader said they don't want their culture "associated with their messages."

A New Zealand Māori tribe called on anti-vaccine protestors to stop performing a traditional dance called the haka at protests, the New Zealand Herald reported Monday.

The haka is a ceremonial dance in the Māori culture performed before battle to show tribal pride, strength, and unity, and it typically includes moves like foot-stamping, chanting, tongue protrusions, and rhythmic body slapping.

The "Ka Mate" haka became one of the most well-known and recognizable versions of the dance, choreographed in the early 1800s by Te Rauparaha, a war leader for the Ngāti Toa tribe. It is performed by New Zealand's rugby team, the All Blacks, during international matches.

The dance has also recently made an appearance at protests against vaccine mandates and coronavirus restrictions in the country.

Taku Parai, one of the leaders of the Ngāti Toa tribe from which the dance originated, called on protestors to stop the practice immediately.

"As the descendants of Te Rauparaha, we insist that protesters stop using our taonga immediately," Parai said, "taonga" referring to a treasured cultural possession. "We do not support their position and we do not want our tupuna or our iwi (tribe) associated with their messages."

New Zealand has had one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the world, largely in part due to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's strict approach to "stamp out COVID wherever it emerges," she said.

According to the nation's government data, 81% of the population has been fully inoculated against COVID-19. However, vaccination rates among the Māori population in New Zealand fall below the national average at 61%.

Helmut Modlik, the chief executive of the Ngāti Toa tribe, said many of the group's ancestors "lost their lives in previous pandemics" and praised the vaccine.

"We are absolutely clear that the COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection we have available to us and we are committed to supporting our whānau (extended family) to get vaccinated as soon as possible," he said, saying that the anti-vaccine protests do not reflect the views of the collective.

"Our message to protesters who wish to use Ka Mate is to use a different haka," Modlik continued. "We do not endorse the use of Ka Mate for this purpose."

Read the original article on Insider