Topic: Kapa Haka

Ngāti Toa haka "Ka mate" internationally exploited again

By Heta Gardiner
  • Wellington

An Intellectual Property lawyer says Ngāti Toa's attribution law protection has no authority internationally to stop people from using the haka, Ka Mate, inappropriately. 

It's not the first time the haka, Ka Mate, has been exploited internationally.  Lynell Huria says, “Currently there is no international protection.”

Heineken is the latest company to use the haka in advertisements.  But they are just one of many.

Legislation to protect the haka, Ka Mate, was passed early last year.  That means if it is used for commercial gain, attribution to Ngāti Toa is needed.

Exceptions were made however for the All Blacks' performances.  But the protection doesn't stretch offshore.

Huria says, “Those rights are not protected in any piece of legislation overseas.  There is no international treaty currently that they can rely on to stop the misuse of their haka, or any inappropriate use.”

The ancient history of the haka is one of the issues.

“Because the haka was written many years ago, any copyright protection it might have had, has now expired,” says Huria.

Ngāti Toa doesn't want to use the haka for commercial gain, so it doesn't have copyright protection.  But Huria says there is a possible solution.

Huria says, “The other option is to push the government for some type of international treaty that recognises traditional knowledge, traditional forms of expression.  Things like the haka.”

But for now, Huria says we may have to get accustomed to ads like this.