Football World Cup: Spain apologise for haka performance as team welcomed at pōwhiri ceremony

The Spanish women's football team have apologised for appearing to make fun of the haka, as 'La Roja' were officially welcomed for the New Zealand-Australia co-hosted World Cup.

"We've only been in Aotearoa New Zealand for a few days and we have so much to learn about your culture," the translated apology said.

"Therefore, thank you so much for the kindness to dedicate a few minutes of your wisdom, especially in such [an] important moment as Matariki.

"We'd also like to see Matariki as a way to renovate our excitement, and for us to learn to enjoy, to share and to reach for new goals and to ask for forgiveness for our mistakes, and to learn more each day.

"We know how important Mana is for Māori people, and therefore, we'd like to celebrate that by giving you a jersey of our team.

"This jersey represents our Mana, our skin, our blood, our sweat and our tears. This shirt represents everything we have to fight for, our sacrifices, our victories, and we hope that you see the privilege we have of playing this tournament in your land."

Earlier this month, as they arrived in Aotearoa, four players were filmed during a training session, laughing, as they attempted what appeared to be the 'Ka Mate' haka.

The clip was deleted from Spain's official content channels, while media requests to the team from Newshub and other outlets were unanswered.

Ranked sixth in the world, Spain are based at Palmerston North for the World Cup, and have matches in Wellington and Auckland during the group stage.

As they were welcomed at a pōwhiri ceremony, captain Ivana Andrés has apologised to local iwi Rangitāne and presented a jersey.

Newshub understands the team wanted to wait to apologise in person, and have since gained a better understanding of haka and its meaning.

To further show their remorse, the jersey offered to Tangata Whenua had the Māori place name 'Papaioea' on the back instead of 'Palmerston North'. Andrés also used 'Papaioea' when referring to Palmerston North in her speech. 

Spain begin their tournament against Costa Rica at Wellington Regional Stadium on Friday, before facing Zambia at Eden Park on July 26 and returning to the capital to take on Japan on July 31. 

Join Newshub at 7pm Thursday for live updates of the NZ v Norway Women's Football World Cup opener