All Blacks Icon TJ Perenara Backs Hurricanes Poua Amid Haka Controversy

TJ Perenara, renowned All Blacks player, has voiced his support for the Hurricanes Poua amidst a recent haka controversy, aligning himself with the sentiments expressed by the women’s team.

The Poua stirred controversy with their haka performance prior to the Super Rugby Aupiki season opener against Chiefs Manawa, where they made reference to the “puppets of this redneck government.”

Following his return from a lengthy Achilles injury in the Hurricanes men’s team’s victory against the Melbourne Rebels last Friday, Perenara was questioned about the Poua haka.

Despite the reservations expressed by Hurricanes management regarding certain wording in the original haka, Perenara, in a media interaction on Tuesday, asserted that the haka serves as a means for Māori expression and stood by the team and their message.

“I share similar views to our women and what was said. I back our women and stand with our women,” stated Perenara. “Haka is something that we as Māori use to express ourselves, whether that’s through celebration or whether that’s through frustration.”

The Poua presented a revised haka in their subsequent match against Matatū after consultations with various stakeholders, seeking to clarify its intent after initial misinterpretations. Ngatai Walker, the Poua coach, emphasized the haka’s essence, aiming to unite Aotearoa and convey resilience in the face of challenges.

While the Poua refrained from performing a haka against the Blues in round three, they resumed the tradition in their encounter with Chiefs Manawa in Palmerston North last Friday, with the Hurricanes stressing its tribute to the people and land of Manawatū, alongside the empowerment of women.

Known for his advocacy on social issues, including equality, Perenara displayed solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community by sporting rainbow laces on his boots. This gesture followed his public support for the community after controversial remarks made by former Wallabies player Israel Folau.

In a noteworthy milestone, Perenara scored his 59th try in the Hurricanes’ triumph over the Rebels, drawing level with Doug Howlett in third place on the all-time try scorers list for Super Rugby.

Having returned to the starting lineup after his Achilles injury sustained during the All Blacks’ end-of-year tour in 2022, Perenara is poised to become the Hurricanes’ most capped player in the next appearance.

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