The New Zealand training camp was caught up in a storm of controversy last night after it emerged that various of the All Blacks' squad, including captain Richie McCaw, had been conned into describing the history of the Haka, with the aid of animated Maori stick men, in an advertisement for a well known German sportswear manufacturer.
A spokesman for the All Blacks confirmed that the players in question had no idea that the film was being made for commercial gain, but believed that they were making a cultural and educational film promoting a little known Maori community who settled on the outskirts of Nuremberg, Germany, shortly after Abel Tasman's arrival in New Zealand in 1642.
"The players were approached by a man called Hori Von Trapp who claimed that he represented a unique Maori community in Germany. He was very convincing. Had they known that this was nothing but yet another attempt to exploit the Haka for commercial gain there is no way they would have taken part," he said.
A Maori spokesman and expert in kapa haka confirmed that he thought the advertisement was, on the face of it, an affront to Maori culture.
"This never-ending exploitation of the Haka denigrates our culture," he commented, "and I believe it's time we reverted to a a far simpler interpretation of the Haka, as practised by the All Blacks during the 1970s."