'Ka Mate Ka Mate' and the Protection of Traditional Knowledge
Rochelle Dreyfuss and Jane Ginsburg (eds) Intellectual Property at the Edge: The Contested Contours of Intellectual Property (2014, Forthcoming).
23 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2013 Last revised: 8 Apr 2014
Date Written: August 1, 2013
“Ka Mate Ka Mate” is an iconic haka. Haka is performance art, particularly originating from the Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. A haka can be ceremonial and it can be a challenge or even a welcome. Ka Mate Ka Mate is the opening line of the ngeri (chant) that is performed as part of the haka. Many New Zealanders refer to Ka Mate Ka Mate as the haka. Its fame has travelled beyond New Zealand. This is most probably because New Zealand’s national rugby team has performed it around the world. Use of the haka is not, however, confined to that rugby team. Aspects of it have been used to parody the same rugby team, to sell products around the world, including Fiat cars in Italy. The descendants of the warrior who created Ka Mate Ka Mate have, in a variety of legal fora, sought to gain some rights over its use. Ka Mate is old, it is a work of culture and it carries with it the knowledge of the descendants of the Ngāti Toa people. If it was ever protected by copyright such a right would have long since expired. Trade mark registration has mostly not been successful. Yet, the haka is commercially valuable. The government of New Zealand has acknowledged the importance of the haka to Ngāti Toa and has agreed to pass a law which will require attribution of the haka, in certain circumstances including commercial uses, to Ngāti Toa and Te Rauparaha. This chapter discusses the boundaries of the protection of traditional knowledge using the story of the haka.
Keywords: intellectual property, tradiitonal knowledge, indigenous peoples, WIPO
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