Kapa o Pango

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"Kapa o Pango" is a prematch haka or challenge unique to the New Zealand national rugby union team, the All Blacks. Since 2005 the "Kapa o Pango" haka has been performed before rugby test matches by the All Blacks as an alternative to the usual "Ka Mate" haka. The longest sequence of "Kapa o Pango" performances is four, which occurred in 2014.

All Blacks performing "Kapa o Pango" in 2011


In August 2005, before the Tri-Nations test match between New Zealand and South Africa at Carisbrook stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand, performed a new haka, "Kapa o Pango", specially composed by Derek Lardelli and "...designed to reflect the multi-cultural make-up of contemporary New Zealand – in particular the influence of Polynesian cultures".[1] "Kapa o Pango" was to be performed on special occasions and was not intended to replace "Ka Mate".[1]

John Smit, the Springbok captain who faced the debut performance of "Kapa o Pango", said after the match: "To stand there and watch it for the first time was a privilege."[1] The Daily Telegraph columnist Mick Cleary criticised the new haka as "unmistakably provocative … There is a fine line and the All Blacks crossed it. Carisbrook is a rugby field not a back-street alley."[2] French coach Bernard Laporte requested New Zealand not to perform "Kapa o Pango" during their November 2006 tour of France, claiming that "It's no good for the promotion of our sport."[3][dead link]

On 24 September 2011, for their Pool A match against France at Eden Park, the All Blacks performed "Kapa o Pango", which included the act of drawing the thumb across the throat at the end. The French had ousted New Zealand at the 2007 World Cup. It had since been a fixture since the knockout stages against Argentina and Australia.


"Kapa o Pango" concludes with what has been interpreted as a "throat slitting" gesture that led to accusations that "Kapa o Pango" encourages violence, and sends the wrong message to All Blacks fans.[4] However, according to Lardelli, the gesture represents "drawing vital energy into the heart and lungs".[5]

The All Blacks opted not to perform "Kapa o Pango" in their opening test of 2006 against Ireland. It was requested that they perform their usual "Ka Mate" haka while a review was conducted into "Kapa o Pango".[6] The throat-slitting action at the end of "Kapa o Pango" had drawn many complaints in the lead-up to the Irish test, with members of the public complaining about it to the NZRU. The NZRU said that it was not because of public pressure that it was not performed against Ireland.

In the run-up to the first All Blacks Test of the 2006 Tri Nations at Jade Stadium in Christchurch against Australia, the NZRU completed their review, and concluded that the gesture had a radically different meaning within Māori culture and haka traditions, indicating the drawing of "hauora", the breath of life into the heart and lungs. As a result, "Kapa o Pango" was performed, complete with the final gesture, before the Australia test.

Despite this, the controversial gesture was withdrawn in 2007, with a modified action (raking the right arm from the left hip to over the right shoulder) performed in the challenge when "Kapa o Pango" was performed in test matches against France and South Africa. During the 2008 Tri Nations series, the All Blacks appear to have reverted to the original action of drawing the hand across the throat.

Players who have led performances[edit]

One All Blacks player is assigned in each test match to lead the haka. Although the leader is often of Maori descent, this is not compulsory as several players have Polynesian heritage. Since its introduction in 2005 the following players have led Kapa o Pango (number in brackets represents tests player has led):

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Stokes, Jon (29 August 2005). "New haka the cutting edge of sport". NZ Herald. Retrieved 14 June 2008.
  2. ^ Cleary, Mick (6 September 2005). "Cut-throat haka does All Blacks no favours". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2006-08-24.
  3. ^ Matheson, John (6 August 2006). "French weigh in to haka debate". Sunday News. Retrieved 2006-08-24.
  4. ^ "All Blacks coach slams haka criticism". The Age. Australia: Fairfax. 28 July 2006. Retrieved 17 January 2007.
  5. ^ "New haka gets public approval". TVNZ. 8 July 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2008.
  6. ^ "Life is precious, live it to da fullest...!". Retrieved 21 October 2015.