I remember a time in the distant past, not long after the advent of the wheel (or was that electricity) for those of you?se under 20, sitting amongst the crowd at the league. As the season would pass, the surrounding faces, once strangers would come to have a familiar feel about them and over the seasons, friendships made of a common bond would stand the test of time, blood, sweat, tears and the sweet taste of victory. A mate ship ? brotherhood even. Shoulder to shoulder in team solidarity. All for one cause and one cause for all ? the team, the game and maybe, just maybe, that elusive Grand Final victory.
THE Haka is a common fixture in the International sporting arena today. Interpreted as a war dance, the Haka (Ha = breath, Ka = to ignite) is a way to “ignite the breath, energise the body and inspire the spirit”�, to prepare the body, mind and soul for the upcoming battle. Many have had the prestigious honour of leading the Kiwis Haka but none more awe-inspiring and somewhat fearsome, than Tawera Nikau. ‘T', in full cry, with his mullet flying, eyes bulging and tongue protruding, could make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end and this was before the ensuing battle had even begun. Unfortunately, due to a feud with Richie Blackmore stemming from a dispute between their wives, Nikau's career with the Kiwis came to an abrupt end in 1997 after donning the black jersey on 19 occasions between 1989-97 and, apart from an impromptu Haka in the shed after Melbourne's 1999 Grand Final win, we were only to see Nikau lead the Haka in the sporting arena again, during the World Cup (2000) as Captain of the Aotearoa Maori side.