Freyberg High School haka was ‘peaceful’, not ‘over-excited’ – student

A Freyberg High School student has defended their haka towards ACT leader David Seymour, saying it was performed to show the pupils strongly disagree with his party’s policies.

Seymour said some of the students got “over-excited” but he had spoken with the principal and would be happy to visit the school again.

Year 12 student Sophie Hurnard says being branded “over-excited” by Seymour was patronising when they had legitimate reasons for the haka.

“We were protesting over the issues from ACT party [policies] towards the Treaty of Waitangi, education issues and workforce that will affect us when we leave school and go to university or try to get jobs. That’s what we were angry about,” Hurnard said.

She defended the protest haka, saying there was no violence shown by the pupils.

“The entire lunchtime and all the time that he was there in that office, we were singing songs, laughing, bringing out flags, putting up signs – it was much more of a peaceful protest.

“We were actually slower than the teachers that pushed past us to … make a barrier.

“And as kids walked up to the teachers and held their phones out and [were] singing, there was no attempt of lashing out.

“So it would be nice to make it clear that [although] it sounds [like] we were really, really violent that was not the case at all,” Hurnard said.

Freyberg High School principal Graeme Williams declined an interview with RNZ but said in a statement some of the students’ behaviour at the end of their protest was unacceptable.

“Upholding the mana of our young people recognises the reality of their world, but also that we must respect and uphold the dignity of each other and all guests at our kura/school.

“The matter will be managed appropriately through our disciplinary process.”

Earlier, a tikanga and haka expert backed the rangatahi, saying they upheld their tikanga while performing a haka at David Seymour. One student spat on the ground in front of the ACT leader during his visit.

Paora Sharples said spitting in haka did not break tikanga.

“The spitting is quite common in haka. Done many times at a national level, once again [it is an] expression of just showing your distaste towards a particular kaupapa.

“In the old days, a whole manner of ways of expressing one’s inner feelings was used [to] full affect during haka.”

Sharples said the school needed to have a hui on the meaning of haka and how to utilise it.

“In the past, New Zealand society … tended to like the ‘good’ side of haka and utilise it in that way. But this is another aspect of haka that can be utilised to protest in this form,” said Sharples.

Greater Wellington regional councillor Thomas Nash – a former student of the school – also weighed in on the haka and praised the rangatahi.

Nash said the haka was a good way for the students to express themselves politically.

“I saw a group of young kids who were standing up for what they believed in, and who were carrying on a proud tradition of youth protest that we have in New Zealand,” Nash said.

“I’m also proud of the school for creating an environment where kids are aware politically of what’s going on around them and how politics affects them.”

Nash also commended Seymour for complimenting the haka and speaking about going back to the school to meet with the students.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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