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This haka was written by Waiariki Parata-Taiapa (Kai Tahu, Ngati Porou, Ngati Hine) in collaboration with Danny Poa (Ngai Tuhoe, Ngati Kahungunu) and associate professor Anne-Marie Jackson (Ngati Whatua, Ngapuhi, Ngati Kahu o Whangaroa) from the University of Otago, Te Koronga, School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences and Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, the Highlanders said in a statement.
Hautoa Kia Toa is a haka born from the whakapapa (genealogy), whenua (landscapes), moana (seas) and mita (dialect) of the Kai Tahu, Kati Mamoe and Waitaha whanau whanui (peoples) who are the kaitiaki (spiritual and physical guardians) of the mana (integrity) of where the Highlanders call home.
"This haka represents the strengths and intelligence of our Kai Tahu peoples in battle and warfare.
"It draws a parallel to the Highlanders’ ethos and invites fearlessness, bravery and camaraderie in the heat of the battle.
"The haka is an expression of ihi, wehi and wana (our unique authenticity)."
Highlanders coach Tony Brown (Kai Tahu), along with the Highlanders coaching and management staff and the co-captains, initiated a conversation to create a new culture within the Highlanders built from authenticity of the unique location of the Highlanders in the South.
Brown returned from the Maori All Blacks campaign last last year, for which he was assistant coach, and the idea of creating a haka was born as a way to bring players, franchise and the community together for a new, shared purpose and identity.
The actions, created with senior players and management, are powerful yet graceful, showcasing the mana of the Highlanders and reflecting the beauty of the landscapes of Te Waipounamu (South Island).
The haka was performed publicly for the first time late last month at Puketeraki marae, one of the principal meeting houses of Kai Tahu in the Southern region, and also of Waiariki.
Brown said the haka was an unique representation of "who we are, the region we belong to and play for".
"It’s something we have wanted to do for a while and we are delighted with the result.
"It has real meaning to the team and we were proud to perform it for the first time at home in front of our own people at the opening match of Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021,” he said.