Not Italian for soulful

italian haka

Italian women perform the haka

There was recently a storm in a teacup here in New Zealand over the appropriation of our haka—a Maori war dance considered in some contexts to be sacred—to advertise an Italian motor vehicle.

While there is some evidence of "haka-fatigue" in this nation, with the performance of the iconic dance at any and all sporting occasions eliciting the suggestion that it's value is being cheapened via overuse, the misappropriation of a quote "national treasure" was a cause for national unity in enmity recently, dissenting cries of "Who cares?" aside.

In a country where there has been considerable contention over the issue of women's speaking privileges on maraes (rough translation: speaking house)—witness the debate several years back over our female Prime Minister being denied the right to speak on a marae —the notion of Italian women performing the sacred war dance was a bridge too far, and to say the talk-back lines and newsprint ran torrid with consternation at the "Miss" appropriation would be an understatement.

In the following news clip, the infamous Italian television commercial is played, with an approximate attempt at translation provided...

View the clip

Italian women perform the haka (4.6mb, 0:57)

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