Aquaman star's red carpet haka 'encourages our kids to be strong', says performer who helped create it

Aquaman star Jason Momoa's original haka performed side-by-side with his children has received praise from around the globe - and some criticism - since he revealed it yesterday at his blockbuster movie's Hollywood premiere.

One of the men who helped him create the haka, called Tangaroa Ararau, told TVNZ today the idea came solely from Momoa - spurred by his passion, even though an outsider, for indigenous New Zealand culture.

"As a Māori it's a privilege to be given the honour," Shannon Borrell told Te Karere of helping the haka come to fruition and performing it side-by-side with Momoa, who is of Hawaiian and Native American descent. "It's about celebrating culture and identity.

"He can see that, you know. He's from a cultural heritage similar to us."

While on the red carpet in Los Angeles, while still holding a trident used in the movie, Momoa took off his jacket yesterday and broke into the performance without warning to the crowd of fans and press. Assisting him, aside from his children and Mr Borrell, were Kiwi actor Temuera Morrison and Momoa's Kiwi fitness trainer Cole Smith.

"He's the one that's been passionate about doing the haka for years," Mr Borrell said of Momoa, who before Aquaman was primarily known for his role as Khal Drogo on hit television show Game of Thrones.

"He used to watch the All Blacks as a young fella," Mr Borrell continued. "He got his role on Game of Thrones, which is pretty much the door to his success, and from then on it just flowed on. He did a haka last year for [New Zealand-born mix-martial arts fighter] Mark Hunt."

Mr Borrell said reaction to the haka has been mixed, But there's been a lot of support from around the world.

"At the global stage, the haka is what puts us on the map, bro," he said. "People in America don't really know what New Zealand is. They know it's a beautiful country, but that's about it.

"But the haka is iconic, and we need to do something like this on a global scale."

More importantly, he said, opportunities like the one created by Momoa yesterday help create pride for Pasifika youth.

"It gives us a name and our voice in the society," he explained. "It encourages our kids to be strong, to learn who they are, where they're from.

"Ultimately, it's what Jason encourages - that we stay strong to our roots and we represent."

For more from the interview, watch Te Karere at 3.55 this afternoon on TVNZ 1 or online at OnDemand

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The Aquaman star might not be Māori, but he shares a passion for staying strong to Pacific roots, performer Shannon Borrell tells TVNZ’s Te Karere. Source: Te Karere