Haka used in Sydney's anti-lockdown protest causing a stir

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Thousands of anti-lockdown locals lined the streets of Sydney at the weekend in what has been described as chaotic and selfish protests.

Back home Māori MPs across the House have responded and shared their disappointment at the participation of many Māori, some of whom performed hakas. The MPs say any threat to whakapapa is to be taken seriously.

Although the number of Delta variant Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Australia thousands packed the streets to protest the lockdown thus breaching current lockdown orders. 

Māori were at the centre of some of the protests, even performing haka in protest. Video footage of haka being performed at the protest in support of the stance against the government ordered lockdown has been seen on social media. 

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is disheartened the Māori culture was used to emphasise anti-Covid 19 messaging, she's concerned at the rhetoric that gambles with the health of whānau.

Saddened by haka

She says "When we are using our tikanga, when we are using our haka, our karanga to find kaha to take on something, that's always about staying alive and thriving. It was never about someone else's whenua. It's about how are the tangata moemoea are going to be affected by this pandemic."

Dr Rawiri Mckree-Jansen echoing the sentiment saying "I'm reminded of the time that Rāwiri Waititi performed a haka in Parliament. That was a haka for health. I don't agree with them in Sydney, I feel sorry for them."

Reports from Australia confirm a woman in her thirties died from Covid-19 at the weekend. Mckree-Jansen reinforced the message that the coronavirus is not to be taken lightly. He said he was saddened to see Māori protesting.

"Covid-19 is a really big issue and we need to look out for one another."

Ngārewa-Packer says the outcomes of a pandemic and the impact for Māori and indigenous people is all too real. With this in mind, she says Māori have to tread with caution. She says "Anything that is remotely near our history as we've seen with pandemics needs to be taken really seriously and the problem is that we've got people that are taking advice from those who have no experience"

According to modellers, the lockdowns in NSW would need to run until September to get ahead of the outbreaks.