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Maori rugby coach creates original haka for Kashiwa folk

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Karl Pokino, front right, performs “Kashiwa no Haka” at Kashiwa shrine on July 14.

The Yomiuri ShimbunKASHIWA, Chiba — A Maori rugby coach has produced an original haka for the city of Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, where New Zealand’s national All Blacks team will hold its training camp before the Rugby World Cup this autumn.

Karl Pokino, 32, who has interacted with Kashiwa residents mainly through rugby, created the haka to promote the city. Pokino wants many people to perform the haka at various occasions such as sporting events, in the hope that the haka will be widely loved among local residents.

Pokino and others performed “Kashiwa no Haka” at Kashiwa shrine in the city on July 14. Their eyes were opened wide, and they clapped their hands to their elbows and chests, dancing and singing powerfully. Pokino shouted in the Maori language while performing the haka: “Ko te Kahiwa e nganguru nei. Ko Tiapani e nganguru nei.” (Kashiwa, the beating land. Japan, the beating land.)

About 100 people — including locals who had received haka lessons — also participated.

Haka is a dance performed by the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, to encourage themselves before a battle. The All Blacks are well known for performing their haka before test matches.

Pokino is a coach who belongs to the Auckland Rugby Union in New Zealand. At the request of the Kashiwa Rugby Football Association, he visited Kashiwa for the first time in March to teach rugby to elementary and junior high school students.

He also participated in an event in which children practiced the national anthem of New Zealand, deepening his interactions with the people of Kashiwa.

Moved by the warm welcome and kindness he was shown, Pokino proposed to the association creating a haka dedicated to Kashiwa. After returning to New Zealand, he spent several weeks working out choreography and lyrics in Maori.

Expressing gratitude to the people of Kashiwa, he titled the haka “Nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi,” meaning “Let’s combine everyone’s power to move forward with life.”

Pokino included a lyric in the song saying, “We stand with flaming courage and honor generated from the tulip,” as he was inspired by the tulips that decorate the Akebonoyama Nogyo Koen agricultural park in the city in spring.

In July, Pokino visited Kashiwa again to teach the dance to a total of about 550 people at places including RKU Kashiwa High School, which has a strong rugby club, and a roadside rest area.

About 20 young rugby players performed “Kashiwa no Haka,” and were applauded by the attendees at a summer festival in Kashiwa on July 27.

“I hope the original haka becomes a dance known to all residents, not just rugby lovers. I want to spread the haka in various places,” said association director Okito Yoshida, 49.Speech

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