A New Zealand Maori tribe is demanding the vaccine protesters in the country to stop using the "Ka Mate" haka ritual dance to garner support for their message of going against the coronavirus vaccines.
Several groups of people that were against the country's vaccine mandates have reportedly used the traditional dance during vaccine protest events. However, the legal owners of the "Ka Mate" haka ritual dance are the Ngati Toa. They are a native tribe based in the country's capital of Wellington and are the custodians of the performance under the law.
"Ka Mate" Haka Ritual Dance
Arguably the most-known of the various rituals in the country, the "Ka Mate" is performed by New Zealand's All Blacks rugby team before each match. The Ngati Toa issued a statement where they criticized the protesters' use of the traditional performance for political purposes.
"We do not support their position and we do not want our tupuna or our iwi associated with their messages," said the tribe in an issued statement, referencing their ancestry that is most commonly known as "tupuna", The Hill reported.
Traditionally, the "Ka Mate" haka is performed before a battle and signifies tribal pride and unity because of its intimidating display of chanting, foot-stamping, tongue protrusions, and rhythmic body slapping. A tribal leader, Taku Parai, was the one that issued a warning to the protesters to immediately stop performing the ritual dance.
Thousands of New Zealand citizens took to the streets, some waving Trump flags, marching or riding motorcycles to the country's Parliament to protest the government's vaccine mandate. The requirement gives doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other healthcare workers until December to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. On the other hand, teachers and other education workers were given a deadline of until January to get inoculated.
Anti-Vaccine Movement in New Zealand
The leader of the fundamentalist Destiny Church in New Zealand, Brian Tamaki, who is also a right-wing activist, has been a well-known figure in the anti-vaccine movement in New Zealand. Being a member of two Maori tribes, Tamaki planned to bestow his knowledge of the "Ka Mate" haka to protesters so that they could perform it at future demonstrations, NPR reported.
Based on government data, vaccination rates among Maori people were below the country's national averages, having only 61% of their members fully vaccinated. Some Maori leaders have also criticized the federal government's decision to lift lockdown restrictions. Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, the co-leader of New Zealand's Maori Party, called the decision a "death warrant" for Indigenous communities.
The situation comes as the country's officials have agreed to begin the rollout of coronavirus vaccine booster shots on Nov. 29. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcements regarding the booster shots this afternoon after a Cabinet meeting that discussed how the country should respond to the health crisis in the region.
Ardern said the Ministry of Health had a strong view to moving the new COVID protection framework to an earlier date than previously planned. The country's government was allegedly seeking expert views regarding the issue to better protect its people from the infection, the New Zealand Herald reported.