Māori cultural experts have blasted a team of radiographers as self-entitled and ignorant after they emerged as the second group of frontline health staff in the UK to have appropriated the haka in a matter of days.
The video recently emerged in New Zealand after being posted last Thursday (NZ time). It shows six radiographers at Torbay Hospital, in the south of England, performing a modified version of the haka to "[get] us hyped for another shift fighting COVID-19".
At the end of the performance, which uses audio from a Ngāti Toa haka, one health worker appears behind a hospital bed with a sign reading "stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives."
Newshub has contacted the original poster for comment.
The video was posted just days before a similar video that drew sharp criticism after being posted online, in which a large group of nurses from Tavistock Day Case Theatre performed a haka. It is not clear if the videos are linked.
Māori advocate and cultural advisor Karaitiana Taiuru says while the latest haka isn't "blatant mockery" like that seen in the Tavistock video, it's "still bizarre".
"It's an example of self-entitlement that because something is not legally owned in a western sense, that it is free to appropriate," he told Newshub.
"In our modern society people have to pay royalties for using other peoples art, dance and music. Yet, the perception is that anyone can use any indigenous property with no permission, no consultation and no acknowledgement."
Tania Ka'ai, a Māori language educator at the Auckland University of Technology, described the video as "truly disturbing" and said it speaks to a common misunderstanding of the cultural significance behind the haka.
"Haka are not about being simply angry at the world," she explained. "They are a fierce display of a tribe's pride, strength and unity.
"This is an example of the dominant Western culture trivialising an aspect of Māori culture and abusing our language which has struggled to survive since the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840.
"It is most unfortunate and a serious error of judgment by UK nurses to produce this video for the world to see, as it has had the effect of being divisive and extremely offensive which probably was not the intention. Nevertheless, the damage is done.
"I attribute this to complete ignorance verging on racism... I am truly appalled."
Taiuru agrees that there is "no excuse" for the haka, particularly as education on indigenous rights has become more prevalent in recent times.
"Haka, as so many other ancient cultural practices, has been borrowed, adopted, adapted, abused and popularised [so often] that it has now become normal to do so," he said.
"To those who do not think this is offensive, I would suggest thinking about how you would feel if your religion was being mocked and used for entertainment by non-believers of your religion, or people who fought to ban your religion.
"Using the haka and other Māori cultural icons is the same. In Māori culture, everything has a genealogical place and a story that relates an individual, their family and tribe to the subject matter."