Aquaman's haka tutor speaks out

By Taroi Black

Tuhoe kaihaka Shannon Borell was instrumental in helping put together the haka "Tangaroa Ararau" for Jason Momoa Aquaman's premiere in L.A.  

The former Te Matatini leader said the Hollywood actor only had 30 minutes to learn the haka with members of the Manawa Ora group, who train in Māori weaponry on the Gold Coast including TV star, Cole Smith. 

"We wanted Jason Momoa to be likened to Tangaroa, god of the sea. The objective was to showcase our Māori culture to the world."

Borell said the lyrics were based on his passion for haka and the theme of the film.

"Tangaroa reaches all countries throughout the globe. The ocean meets all lands no matter where you go, you'll find Tangaroa."

Jason Momoa and wife Lisa Bonet with Manawa Ora on the Gold Coast

The 39-year-old collaborated with Momoa and other Māori martial art fighters during the filming of Aquaman in Australia over a six month period to integrate mau rākau into the fight scenes. 

"Our members from Manawa Ora were training and he took interest in our methods and asked to learn our ways, so we showed him," he adds, "I want to study this art form for my role."

The powerful performance on the 'blue' carpet included the Ngāti Toa haka Ka Mate, made famous by the All Blacks.

Momoa held his trident or 'Matarau' as Borell calls it. 

"He broke the Matarau in half during the premiere but it is also part of his costume in the film complimented with a pounamu pendant around his neck."

The haka also featured renowned Te Arawa actor Temuera Morrison, who played a leading role as Aquaman's human father. 

"Uncle Tem supported our kaupapa, as you well know he's an experienced and well-respected kaihaka," says Borell. 

Video credit: Aquaman / Facebook