9 Aug 2010

Call for schoolboy rugby haka ban to be lifted

9:06 am on 9 August 2010

A Northland Maori MP is among rugby supporters calling for an end to a ban on the haka at the country's oldest schoolboy competition.

The 12- and 13-year-olds who compete in the annual Northern Roller Mills tournament are forced to do the haka in their dressing rooms.

Northern region junior rugby officials say the ban is in place because players under the age of 16 don't have the maturity to cope with the strong emotions the haka can evoke, and in the past it has caused assaults.

Labour list MP Kelvin Davis, who was a primary school principal, says only the Auckland teams want the ban, and they need to harden up.

He says primary school teams in regions like Northland routinely do a haka at their games and it causes no problems.

Mike McCarthy, who runs the website for the Northern Roller Mills tournament, says primary school teams in many regions - and even overseas - do the haka without incident.

"There's these young Japanese kids in Japan doing the haka, and it makes you wonder if we're not allowed to - it is our culture."

However, the Northern Regions Junior Rugby Advisory Board chairman, Dave Syms, has defended the ban, which he says will remain.

Mr Syms says there have been altercations, pushing, shoving and general intimidation because some participants don't use the haka in the best interests of the game.