The captain of Spain’s national women’s team has apologised after a video of members of her side laughing as they attempted to do a haka routine drew criticism in New Zealand ahead of the Women’s World Cup.
The players were accused of being disrespectful to Maori culture in the video, which has since been deleted.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
Captain Ivana Andres read a statement of apology on Monday to elders and members of the local Rangitane O Manawatu iwi, or tribe, at a powhiri, or greeting, ceremony in the North Island city of Palmerston North, where the Spain squad is based.
Also at the ceremony, Andres presented a Spain playing shirt with the word Papaioea, the Maori name for Palmerston North, to tribal elders.
“We’ve only been in Aotearoa New Zealand for a few days and we have so much to learn about your culture,” Andres said.
“Therefore, thank you so much for the kindness to dedicate a few minutes of your wisdom, especially in such important moment as Matariki.”
Matariki is the Maori New Year which is celebrated in New Zealand as a national holiday.
“We’d also like to see Matariki as a way to renovate our excitement and for us to learn to enjoy, to share and to reach for new goals and to ask for forgiveness for our mistakes and to learn more each day,” Andres said.
“We know how important mana [status] is for Maori people and therefore we’d like to celebrate that by giving you a jersey of our team.” Andres said the jersey represented “our mana, our skin, our blood, our sweat and our tears”.
The Real Madrid player spoke in Spanish during the almost hourlong greeting ceremony.
A Rangitane spokesperson told reporters that what happened at the ceremony “was a very good outcome”.
“Their words came from the heart and there was an acknowledgement that they understood the haka is very precious, not only to Maori, but to all of Aotearoa.”
Spain play their Group C matches in New Zealand, opening their campaign on Friday when they face Costa Rica in Wellington before taking on Zambia and Japan.