Britain, New Zealand agree trade deal, including haka clause

London (AFP) – Britain and New Zealand have unveiled a comprehensive free trade deal, including a commitment aimed at preventing the revered Maori cultural tradition of the haka, famously perfomed by the All Blacks, from being misused.

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The in-principle deal was sealed in a video call between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern, following  16  months of talks.

Johnson said it was a "big moment" that strengthened Britain's friendship with New Zealand and cemented London's ties in the Indo-Pacific.

He likened negotiations for Britain's latest post-Brexit trade deal to a rugby match.

"I'm absolutely thrilled that we seem to have driven for the line, we've scrummed down, we've packed tight and together we've got the ball over the line," he said.

Ardern continued the sporting analogy, saying Thursday that "unlike a rugby match, I think we can literally both come off the field feeling like winners".

Tariffs on New Zealand goods such as wine, kiwifruit and meat, will be axed under the deal
Tariffs on New Zealand goods such as wine, kiwifruit and meat, will be axed under the deal NEIL SANDS AFP/File

London said the deal ends tariffs on British exports such as clothing, footwear, ships and bulldozers. It estimated that trade between the two countries last year was worth £2.3 billion ($3.2 billion, 2.7 billion euros).

Tariffs on goods coming the other way, such as wine, kiwifruit and meat, will also be axed.

"It's one of our best deals ever and secured at a crucial time in our Covid recovery," Ardern said.

The New Zealand leader praised provisions in the agreement aimed at promoting Maori participation in trade and addressing indigenous concerns.

They include a commitment by both countries to "identify appropriate ways to advance recognition and protection of the haka Ka Mate".

The haka is best known as the spectacular pre-match challenge issued by the All Blacks, but it is also a revered cultural tradition among New Zealand's Maori.

Indigenous communities -- particularly the Ngati Toa iwi (tribe) where Ka mate originated -- have long resented the foot-stomping, eye-rolling challenge being mocked or exploited for profit.

Over the years, haka parodies have been used in Britain to sell everything from menswear to alcopops -- all without permission and without a cent being paid to the ritual's traditional owners.

The deal will encourage more cultural sensitivity, with London agreeing to formally recognise Ngati Toa's guardianship of the Ka Mate haka.

New Zealand Rugby and Ngati Toa have been approached for comment.