The Ngati Toa tribe named custodians of the "Ka Mate" ritual by the law have issued a statement appealing to the protesters to stop using the haka for political purposes.
"We do not support their position and we do not want our tupuna (ancestors) or our iwi (people) associated with their messages. Our message to protesters who wish to use Ka Mate is to use a different haka," the tribe’s representatives said.
The tribe’s chief executive Helmut Modlik has also accused the protesters of putting their individual desires ahead of common profit.
"Many of our tupuna lost their lives in previous pandemics and our iwi suffered greatly. We are committed to supporting our whanau (family) to get vaccinated as soon as possible," he said.
Last Tuesday around 3,000 people gathered in the streets of New Zealand’s capital Wellington to oppose COVID restrictions and the government’s vaccination policy.
New Zealand: Thousands attend New Zealand protest against Covid-19 measures:Thousands of demonstrators marched on the New Zealand parliament Tuesday to protest against Covid-19 restrictions. pic.twitter.com/b5CDEygSHH
The "Ka Mate" haka gained its worldwide popularity thanks to New Zealand’s national rugby team called All Blacks who perform the ritual at the beginning of every game.
Though the law called Ngati Toa cultural guardians of the haka, it implies no punishment for cases of its misuse. It is usually performed at important social events and has become a part of New Zealand’s culture and heritage.
The Pacific island with a population of some 5 mln people has recorded only around 9,000 COVID cases and only slightly over 30 deaths since the pandemic outbreak. It imposed strict restrictions as a quick response to the virus, closing its borders and introducing a tough lockdown.