Support He Taua

'For 25 years Maoris have had their culture insulted by the obscene public display of the Engineers' "Haka Party". Protests have been made through official channels, but this provocative racist demonstration has continued. They claim it is all just a joke – but racism is no laughing matter, and seeing our culture ridiculed with grass skirts and lipstick isn't funny to us.

He Taua leaflet June 1979

 “MOCKING A PEOPLE’S CULTURE IS A SICK AND SINISTER FORM OF VIOLENCE. We urge the people of NZ to remember this when they consider the events that took place at Auckland University on May 1st 1979 “

He Taua Defence Committee 1979
This mock haka was carried out by engineering students at Auckland University in 1955. The students appear to be carrying mock taiaha and wearing grass skirts instead of piupiu. Over the years this performance became a tradition, and by the 1980s it had degenerated to the stage where engineers were writing swear words and drawing sexual organs on their bodies. Māori students at Auckland University tried to have the haka stopped by going through formal channels, but to no avail. This came to a head in 1979 when a group of Māori students physically confronted the engineering students in what became known as the Haka Party Incident. The group who confronted the engineers were arrested and charged with a number of offences, and are known as He Taua.

For 25 years Maoris have had their culture insulted by the obscene public display of the Engineers’ “Haka Party”. Protests have been made through official channels, but this provocative racist demonstration has continued. They claim it is all just a joke – but racism is no laughing matter, and seeing our culture ridiculed with grass skirts and lipstick isn’t funny to us.’

This is a political issue involving racism, and so all the criminal charges against He Taua must be dropped.· We believe that this is not an issue that should be tried before the courts and so our main defence will be to mobilise the people in support of our take. Although we must fight this on a legal as well as a political front, we intend to prove, as did the Bastion Point cases, that court battles can  and wiII be won with the people’s support.

The result of this stand will set a precedent for other groups In N.Z. who are also making a stand against:

  • Attacks on civil liberties
  • Anti-worker laws
  • Attacks on women’s rights
  • Attacks on cultural minorities
Support He Taua in their stand against racism!
MARCH from C.P.O. to Auckland Town Hall, 7pm, Friday, June 22.
PUBLIC MEETING Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber, 8pm, Friday, June 22.
PICKET outside Magistrate's Court, 9.30am Thursday, July 5.
Issued by He Taua Defence Committee


‘To debase another’s culture and to feign ignorance In the cause of good fun is unforgivable, especially when it Is perpetuated by those claiming to belong to the privileged. I fully support the actions of our young Maori people to draw attention to such mockery and would commend them in their articulation of our search justice and equality. Kia ora! Reverend Hone Kaa, Auckland Anglican Maori Mission

‘Resolution passed unanimously at monthly meeting 27th May, 1979, that the Auckland District Maori Council fully support He Taua in the forthcoming court cases pending against them.’ (There are 15 different Maori Committees in Auckland District.

“The Auckland Committee on Racism and Discrimination pledges Its full support for He Taua in their struggle to gain self-determination for Maori and other Polynesian people In Aotearoa. As Pakehas, we recognise that entrenched racist attitudes as exemplified by the engineering students’ “haka party” must be challenged and overcome. We  salute He Taua’s initiative and courage. Kia kaha kia manawa nui!’ Oliver Sutherland for ACORD

‘The Haka Party is a racist caricature that ridicules Maoris and Maori culture. Now a group of Maori and Pacific Island youth are being charged with ‘rioting’ after facing deliberate racist provocation. They should not be before any court. The charges against them should be dropped.’  Janet Roth, President, Auckland University Students Association.

‘Customs, cultures and traditions are very dear to the people concerned and the use In public performance of this nature should be done with dignity and respect. If It is used in an abusive manner it is an Insult. No papalagl or any other race will ever speak or perform any of our culture, on our behalf while we are present. I feel this Is the time for us to try and understand each other’s cultures and respect them.”                                      Sofi Pua, Samoan leader.

‘The Maori population is now predominantly urban and the so-called ‘Maori problem’ is an urban one. It is in the streets and the alleys of the cities where the young people of Maoridom struggle to find a neworder in the best way they can. They comprise probablythe only section of the Maori population which Is making an honest and full-scale attempt to come to terms with the realities and the contradictions of the times in which welive. … The attempts by non-Maoris, whether university students or not, to debase Maori culture Is harmful to race relations in this country’
Venerable Reverend Kingi lhaka, Auckland Anglican Diocese.

‘Focus on the cultural violence and ignorance of the engineering students “Haka Party”has brought to the fore the attitudes of the majority of white middle-class citizens In N.Z. who actively Ignore and discriminate against Maori culture end its values.’ – Nga Tamatoa.

“The Maori and Pacific People’s Revolutionary Front unconditionally supports He Tauafor the actions taken against the Auckland University Engineering Students ‘Haka Party’, who for years have perpetuated a racist attack on Maori culture.”

“I, as president of this association, and one of the protesters against this cultural abuse from about 20 years ago when I was a student at the University of Auckland call that this form of abuse or attack by the engineering students on a minority culture and people should cease. For the sake of future racial harmony amongst all peoples of N.Z., I ask that sanity should prevail.’
Steve Niumata, President, Pacific Islanders Housing and Welfare Association.

The Annual Conference of Te Huinga Rangatahi o Aotearoa gives full support to the Take or Issue presented by He Taua of Auckland. Te Huinga Rangatahl o Aotearoa condemn the mockery of Maori culture and the hypocrisy of the police in physically assaulting members of He Taua after their arrest.’

‘The engineers’ haka, their dress and their obscene tattooing , is an Insult to us and to the Maori people. Their being called “University Haka Party” lowers our mana here; we, the University Maori Club, have a 120-member Maori Culture Club.” – Auckland University Maori Club.

‘The annual obscenity performed by the engineer students at Auckland University was a continuing racist attack on Maorldom. He Taua’s actions were a long overdue example of Maori anger which has festered for years. The fact that took so long for this evil to be exorcised is an indictment of Pakeha intolerance from out of the imperialist attitudes of the past.’                         – Syd Jackson, Auckland Trades Council Executive.