Super Rugby Aupiki: AM hosts Nicky Styris, Lloyd Burr clash over Hurricanes Poua 'redneck government' haka

AM hosts Lloyd Burr and Nicky Styris are on opposite sides of the debate over Hurricanes Puoa's protest haka before their season-opener against Chiefs Manawa.

The Wellington women tweaked the start of their pre-game challenge, referring to 'puppets of the redneck government', but their sentiments have not been supported by the Hurricanes organisation, which was "blindsided" by the incident.

"Certainly disappointed," said chief executive Avan Lee. "There was no discussion, no consultation and some of the words that were used were interpreted to be very strong.

Nicky Styris and Lloyd Burr clash over the Hurricanes Puoa haka.
Nicky Styris and Lloyd Burr clash over the Hurricanes Puoa haka. Photo credit: AM Show

"The Hurricanes shouldn't be making any political statement. If they do, it needs to be agreed across the organisation, because we have got players and staff who are not comfortable with what is being said."

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters claims the players should spend more time practicing their tackles and they might not lose - Chiefs won the encounter 46-24.

AM Show hosts disagree over the pros and cons of the haka.

"I just think if it was the other way round and it was a different government, and [the haka] said, 'Damn those socialist pr*cks', when Ardern was in power, they would all be up in arms as well," said Burr. 

"No matter which way you look at it, there would be someone up in arms. Part of me says the politicians just need to suck it up and say this is free speech.

"We spout free speech all the time. Winston says, 'Everyone complains these days, we're so woke', then they just do a haka and he says, 'This is outrageous, I can't believe it'.

"Mate, you're now going a bit woke."

Styris disagrees.

"I think you've got to be very careful where you join the line with using a sports platform for political statements," she said. "It's a dangerous road to go down and you're just opening up a can of worms to use that platform.

"They're role models for people too, so you are influencing."

Burr insists politicians use sport for their own advantage all the time.

"There's All Blacks diplomacy, sport diplomacy all over the world," he said. "When they're in finals overseas, politicians will fly in... John Key's threeway handshake, Ardern in the locker room.

"Politics and sport are inter-twined, whether it's a protest like that in a haka or a photoshoot.

"Sport is just such a big part of our society - maybe that's why people are up in arms about it."

AM viewers also aren't happy with the protest.

"I've got no problem with expressing one's displeasure with our Government's policies, but no place for this in sport," said Martin. "I'm disgusted they mock our haka in this way.

"Haka is sacred and shouldn't be trashed. I can say that as I'm Māori."

Alan said: "I get enough discussion on these matters on the media every day, leave it off the sports and entertainment field please - it is a big turnoff."

The Hurricanes are still reviewing the incident and a possible apology to the Government for the protest, and are due to name their team to face champions Matatū this weekend.