LONDON (Reuters) - English Rugby World Cup winner Matt Dawson's lampooning of the haka in an advert for a clothing company has riled plenty of New Zealanders on social media, but the All Blacks synonymous with the traditional dance on Wednesday laughed off his spoof.
Dawson's video features a version of the haka called the 'hakarena' where Dawson combines the traditional ancestral war cry with a Spanish dance song, the Macarena, and the result is a camp and comical 'mash-up' of the two.
New Zealanders reacted on Twitter, accusing Dawson of cultural insensitivity, and former co-leader of the Maori Party in New Zealand hit out at the mocking video.
"The haka is very meaningful to us," Pita Sharples told the Daily Mail website. "To actually mimic it and deliberately bring it into ridicule is, to me, insulting."
Jacamo, the clothing company behind the video, moved to defuse the situation, responding to one of the Twitter complaints with the message: "sorry if this has caused offence, was not our aim. The haka is awesome & wanted to show how silly English version would be"
The All Blacks, however, shrugged off the issue.
"It's actually quite funny seeing him do it," hooker Keven Mealamu told reporters at the team's World Cup base.
"It's obviously just something he's lifted. The haka's part of what we do but it's not actually what we do as a rugby team. We're out here to play the game."
Mealamu would not be drawn on whether or not Dawson should have shown more respect, instead reiterating what the haka meant to his country.
"It's his view on the way he sees it," Mealamu said. "He sees it different to us. The haka is quite special to us not only as All Blacks but it's something we're proud of as part of our culture. I started doing the haka when I was four years old in my backyard. I saw my heroes doing it."
Drawing a line under the issue, he added: "Look, we've bigger things to worry about this week... like the Argentina front row."
Champions New Zealand start their defence of the World Cup with a Pool C match against the Argentines on Sunday.
(Writing by Ossian Shine, editing by Pritha Sarkar)