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date: 20 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter unpacks the sociocultural and legal issues surrounding the Māori haka (chant/dance) “Ka Mate” authored by Ngāti Toa chief Te Rauparaha in the 1820s. In Aotearoa New Zealand, this beloved haka has become a symbolic display of biculturalism and is integral to the national imaginary. Historical associations and usages in wartime and sport, particularly rugby, have exacerbated associations with aggression and masculinity with essential meanings becoming diluted and erased with each further layer of appropriation. Important dialogues emerge from Ka Mate’s complex location at the intersection of Indigenous cultural property, the public imagination, the nation-state, and global appropriation. Ka Mate’s contentious legal history, including its recent repatriation to Ngāti Toa as an “intangible” taonga (treasure), highlights the problematics that the circulation of music and dance have for Indigenous custodial guardians, underscoring that repatriation must include an acknowledgment of history, context, and mana (integrity/power).

Keywords: Māori, Aotearoa New Zealand, indigenous, repatriation, intellectual property, cultural property, chant, dance, haka, Ka Mate

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