New Zealand Explains Haka to Turkey in Gesture of Goodwill at Chunuk Bair

“A haka has been performed at a Gallipoli commemoration service for the first time in years after Turkish concerns about “offensive” gestures were resolved”, writes Lloyd Jones for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Before the New Zealand Defence Force could perform the haka on Saturday at the Chunuk Bair centenary service NZ officials had to reassure Turkish officials that certain gestures were not in the haka and others were not intended as offensive as in Turkey the throat-cutting action or arm-slapping move can be seen as insulting.

“I wasn’t prepared to compromise our culture. We didn’t change our haka, we kept it but there were certain things that I was mindful of,” said Sergeant-Major Brent Pene, leader of the haka party.

A throat-cutting gesture was not included into the haka, which was dedicated to all soldiers who fought and died at Gallipoli – not just New Zealanders. Performers were also taught not to look directly at Turkish officials at Saturday’s service to reduce any perception of a challenge.

“What we wanted to do was ensure there was comfort on the part of our Turkish guests that this haka could be performed as a final farewell to our fallen at Chunuk Bair,” said Pene.

“What we wanted to do was ensure there was comfort on the part of our Turkish guests that this haka could be performed as a final farewell to our fallen at Chunuk Bair,” said Jonathan Curr, New Zealand’s ambassador to Turkey.

“We’ve explained the nature of the haka and its significance and meaning so no one inadvertently takes offence.”

Article Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Lloyd Jones, August 09, 2015

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Tags: Chunuk Bair  Gallipoli  New Zealand Defence Force  Sergeant-Major Brent Pene  Sydney Morning Herald (The)  The Sydney Morning Herald  

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