Tuesday, July 11, 2006

moaning for the heck of it

ho hum haka
Featherston Rugby Club's vice-prez & treasurer unhappy over
the All Blacks' new (bland, trite, meaningless) haka, citing the final 'throat slashing' action as a 'threatening to kill' gesture, which is prohibited by law. To an extent, I agree. This haka could kill someone... through boredom, that's if they don't die laughing beforehand. Give me Ka mate, Ka mate anyday.

What I most object to is that there's NOTHING new,
original, or inspired about this haka. In fact, it's merely a slapdash cut-and-paste mutilation of Ruaumoko, the East Coast classic that all young lads from Ngati Porou (a tribal affiliation I share with Derek Lardelli, Kapa o Pango's composer) invariably learn growing up in the area. The level of plagiarism is scandalous. Behold - the only 'new' material highlighted in blue:
KAPA O PANGO (Team in Black)

Kia whakawhenua au i ahau! Hi aue, hi!
Ko Aotearoa e ngunguru nei! Au au aue ha, hi!
Ko Kapa o Pango e ngunguru nei! Au au aue ha, hi!

I ahaha! Ka tu te ihiihi, ka tu te wanawana!

Ki runga ki te rangi e tu iho nei, tu iho nei, hi!
Ponga ra! Kapa o Pango! Aue hi!
Ponga ra! Kapa o Pango! Aue hi, ha!

Let me become one with the land at this moment,
our land that rumbles. It’s our time, right now,
and this rumbling defines us as All Blacks.

We will triumph because of our greater strength,

to be properly revered, placed on high.
Silver Fern! All Blacks!
Silver Fern! All Blacks!
[Translation: Rugby News]

Other than that, it's word-for-word extraction. What's worse, unlike traditional hakas, there are no poetic allusions, metaphors, allegories, clever word plays or other literary inventions. It's as formulaic and pre-programmed as an automated phone-answering system. References to sport, nature, mythology, history or topical events are entirely absent. It is a Seinfeld haka; a song about nothing.

Stylistically, it's an abomination. The first line, (kia whakawhenua...) is a common oratorical device, similar to recitative in opera, serving as an introduction but not considered part of the 'lyrics proper.' Lines 2 & 3 declare the identity of the performers, but in the most literal, banal, pedestrian fashion, completely lacking any provocative or suggestive imagery. Why is this important? Because haka is first & foremost 'poetry' - the actions are peripheral, almost irrelevant. The strength of the words and message are paramount; by its eloquence, power and depth of expression, should a haka be assessed.

From the humdrum opening, we move immediately to the climatic conclusion (lines 4-7), but WITHOUT any substance in between. In effect we have a beginning and an ending, but no middle! A storytelling equivalent would read something like: "Once upon a time, they all lived happily ever after." This haka has no 'guts', no story, no purpose, no meaning. The dancing itself may look spectacular, impressive in its vigour & ferocity. But as a 'narrative', it has nothing to say whatsoever.

Yours disdainfully,
Culture Snob

1 comment:

Mangamahu said...

Kapa o Pango also is includes bits of Te Kiringutu (Ponga ra! Ponga Ra!)