Willie Jackson: Rihanna's ink and Beyonce's haka

05/11/2013

By Willie Jackson

Pop princess Rihanna needs to have a good look at herself after covering up her traditional Maori moko just weeks after she got it.

To me, that says more about the American singer‘s immaturity than the actual tattoo and the pain process she went through.

The already tattooed entertainer starred online when she was inked the old-school way using a mallet and chisel.

That method is used around the Pacific and is extremely painful so I'm told.

You have to give her credit for going through that, but now that she's seen fit to cover it up, I can only wonder 'why she got it done in the first place?'

Her behaviour is in direct contrast to the magnificent Beyonce who performed four sell-out concerts just after Rihanna performed at Auckland's Vector arena.

The concert backstage crew, led by the fabulous young Maori singer Stan Walker, gave a spontaneous performance of the haka Ka Mate, Ka Mate for Beyonce after the show and she was totally overwhelmed.

So much so that she started mimicking the actions, jumped up and down and poked her tongue out.

Some sceptics and your normal rednecks thought Maori would be offended by her actions because in the past many of us have condemned people who have made fun of the haka or made a mockery of it.

I will never forget for example how Auckland University students in the late 1970s used to disrespect the haka.

They would perform Ka Mate, Ka Mate, mispronounce the words on purpose, have obscenities painted on their bodies and insult Maori women, all because it was part of their "university culture" and this was a annual event for them.

They were warned by Maori students and the Waitangi action committee to cut it out but refused so were beaten up for their troubles.

And who will ever forget the super group the Spice Girls making fun of the haka? They, of course, were no way as offensive as the university students but their casual attitude deserved some rebuke and they did apologise for any offence.

Then just last year we saw beautiful Italian models mimicking haka actions, all in the name of good fun but clearly they had no interest in it and it was all about commercial gain.

Beyonce's performance was much different.

It is well known she loves dancing, particularly indigenous dancing. And you could see on the video which is all over YouTube and on her website that she was totally captured by the magic of the moment and the haka.

Unlike Rihanna she honours Maori culture and watching her embrace our traditional haka is something that many Maori will treasure for years to come.

Auckland Now, 2nd November 2013

source: data archive