A powerful haka performed by the New Zealand teammates of 2018 Dally M Medallist Roger Tuivasa-Sheck stole the show at Wednesday night’s rugby awards.
It was NRL’s night of nights and while Tuivasa-Sheck walked away with the top prize of the evening, it was also a big moment for New Zealand as a country. Tuivasa-Sheck became the first New Zealand Warriors player to win the award and judging by the powerful display of sportsmanship from his fellow teammates, it’s a moment he and NRL fans won’t forget anytime soon.
When the 25-year-old took to the stage to claim his prize alongside the night’s other winners, his teammates surprised him with an impromptu haka from the audience. The haka, performed by players including players Issac Luke, Jazz Tevaga and David Fusitu’a, left Tuivasa-Sheck fighting back tears.
Others in attendance watched on in complete awe as the men completed the traditional Māori dance. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Viewers at home were quick to take to social media to praise the powerful moment.
One person on Facebook wrote: “Let’s all stand and applaud ROGER TS and his NZ Warriors Team Mates. I’m a Proud Aussie, but I had the hairs on the back of my neck stick up when I seen this great showing of RESPECT [SIC].”
Another comment read: “You couldn’t ask for a more fitting show of respect and honour. Great effort lads!”
A third added: “That was awesome. Good on them and congratulations.”
Tuivasa-Sheck appeared on Thursday’s episode of Today where he explained what the moment meant to him.
“It meant a lot, just to have Issac Luke and the rest of the group get up there and have two other players from different clubs stand up and honour me with the haka, it meant a lot,” he said. “I was just buzzed out trying to hold back all the emotions.”
The haka is a traditional war cry or challenge in Māori culture, but in modern times it’s also performed on meaningful occasions. It’s one of the highest honours in Māori culture.
“It’s one of the highest accolades, a haka, so I was just grateful to be there and take in all the moment,” Tuivasa-Sheck told Today.