Our national men’s softball team have learnt and performed a new haka as they set out to win their eighth Softball World Championship.
The Black Sox have performed Ngāti Toa's 'Ka Mate' haka throughout their storied history but decided to usher in a new era that pays tribute to their past but also focuses on building a new legacy.
They debuted the haka before their opening game of the World Cup - being played in Tāmaki Makaurau - against the Czech Republic (they ended up winning the game 3 - 1).
Israel Hawkins, founder and CEO of WERA Aotearoa Charitable Trust (Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Tuwharetoa) and Huia Clayton, a Pou Tuara at Te Puia (Te Arawa) taught the new haka to the team.
“We’ve always done Ka Mate for a long time and taught ourselves or reached out to All Blacks and watched videos,” Thomas Enoka, who became a World Champion with the team in 2017, told 1 News.
“But to learn something for yourself and be taught by professionals is something even better. We've been talking about legacy for a long time - the guys before us and then the guys that will come after us," Thomas continued.
"So part of the words that go with it are about remembering the guys before us, draw strength from the guys before us and then pass it on to the guys coming ahead."
Ben Enoka, Thomas’ older brother and a 2x World Champ with the Black Sox, said the haka and process of learning the haka has acted as a unifier for the team and given them a sense of character.
“We've had a couple of days to learn it and time down in Rotorua at the marae and we've come together and it's kind of connected us and it's quite special to have something that identifies us as a unit and a team,” he said.
“It's pretty special to us."
After winning the opening game, the Black Sox have lost their last two games: one to Argentina, who came back to win 11 - 5, and to USA 7 - 0. They can still kick some A and win the championship, but first, they’ll have to bear Argentina, the Philippines, and Cuba to close out the pool games.