Skip to main content


Spain captain apologizes after haka video is criticized by indigenous Maori before Women's World Cup

Irene Guerrero (L) and Ivana Andres (R) of Spain attend a Spain team welcome ceremony on July 17, 2023, in Palmerston North, New Zealand. Irene Guerrero (L) and Ivana Andres (R) - Getty Images

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Spain captain Ivana Andres has apologized to the Maori people of New Zealand for a video showing four members of her country's Women’s World Cup squad mocking the traditional haka which was shared a week ago on social media.

The video was posted shortly after the team’s arrival in New Zealand but was removed when experts of Maori culture and protocol condemned it as disrespectful.

Andres read a statement of apology Monday to elders and members of the local Rangitane O Manawatu iwi (tribe) at a powhiri (greeting) ceremony in the North Island city of Palmerston North, where the Spain squad is based.

She also presented a Spain playing shirt with the word Papaioea, the Maori name for Palmerston North, to tribal elders.

The Real Madrid centre back spoke in Spanish during the almost hour-long greeting ceremony. Her words were translated into English.

“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 (an) important moment as Matariki.”

Matariki is the Maori New Year which is celebrated in New Zealand with 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.”

"This shirt represents everything we have to fight for, our sacrifices, our victories, and we hope that you see the privilege we have of playing this tournament in your land.”

Iwi spokesperson Professor Meihana Durie welcomed Spain’s apology.

“Their words came from the heart and there was an acknowledgment that they understood the haka is very precious, not only to Maori but to all of Aotearoa,” Professor Durie said. “In terms of what happened today at the powhiri, today was a very good outcome.”

Spain will play its opening match of the World Cup against Costa Rica in Wellington on Friday.


AP Women’s World Cup: