Central West's New Zealand touring group visits living Maori village before session with Canterbury's best coaches

When the All Blacks perform the Ka Mate or Kapa O Pango, their Hakas, they do with such passion, tenacity, ferocity and pride a number of coaches worldwide have argued the challenge gives the Kiwis an unfair pre-game advantage, thanks to their intimidating nature.

That's a matter of opinion, but there was no debating how little of that intimidation factor Central West's New Zealand touring group mustered when they were given the chance to learn, and perform, the former Haka.

Not that they were trying to intimidate, of course, for the most part they were just trying not to forget any of the steps and what they did have was enthusiasm, along with a newfound respect for and knowledge of the Maori celebration.

WATCH: Central West's Ko Tane visit. Video: TOTAL TOURS NZ

During a visit to the Ko Tane Village just outside of Christchurch on Thursday Blue Bulls Harry Webber, Shaun McHugh, Dave Jessiman and Peter Fitzimmons, along with a handful of the side's coaching staff, were given the chance to perform the Ka Mate for the group.

That was just one part of the group's visit to the living village, where the Central West men's and women's tourists also learned about the South Island Ngai Tahu Maoris' way of life before European settlement.

They experienced the thrill of the wero, the traditional challenge to visitors, and were given an insight into the South Island's conservation efforts as well, specifically those regarding the kiwi, kea and other native New Zealand species.

"It was certainly interesting to get that kind of insight into their culture, we're obviously mainly here to play rugby but we've learned a lot off the field as well, and the boys' crack at the Haka definitely gave us all a laugh," Molong's Zac White said.

"A lot of people's knowledge on the Haka probably only extends as far as the All Blacks so I think there'll be a few guys reading up on that kind of thing a bit more and also trying to learn a bit more about our own Indigenous peoples' culture back home in Australia."

The Central West women were also on centre stage during the visit, a number of them taking the opportunity to learn and try a traditional poi performance, which is a form of dance in which each performer skillfully twirls one or more poi - essentially a ball on a chord - in perfect unison.

WATCH: The Blue Bulls perform the Ka Mate

Poi dancers are usually women and a skilled performance, like the one the Ko Tane villagers produced, conveys a certain grace, beauty and charm, although the Blue Bulls women may not have quite reached those heights.

"They had a good crack though, had some fun and that gave us a good laugh too, these kinds of opportunities don't come along all that often and I think we were all pretty grateful for it," White said.

That visit came before Friday's excursion north to vineyard country, where the group visited the Waiau Gorge to go jetboating and then pushed on to Hanmer Springs to explore the village and have a recovery session in the hot springs.

That recovery session was necessary, considering Wednesday night's games were followed by a Thursday morning training session, watched over by the head coach of Canterbury's ITM Cup side in Joe Maddock, along with fellow elite-level mentors Grant Keenan and Simon Kneebone.

Melissa Ruscoe, an international in football, rugby and rugby sevens and a two-time World Cup-winning Black Fern, was also hand for the session.

While it was a slightly lower-intensity session considering the games the night before, the Central West group still got plenty from it, which White says they'll try and put into action in Saturday's games against Prebbleton Rugby Club.

WATCH: Central West's elite coaching session. Video: TOTAL TOURS NZ

"It was like our visit to Crusaders HQ, a lot of what they do at the elite-level is similar to what we do in terms of training, they just do it much, much better," he explained.

"It's largely the little techniques in everything that can seriously improve the way you play individually and as a group, and they took us through a lot of them which was great, we learned plenty."

Following Saturday's games the Central West group will head to Christchurch Stadium to watch the Crusaders' Super Rugby clash with the Chiefs, before flying back to Australia on Sunday evening.


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