New Zealand maori haka

Maori Haka


The Maori were the indigenous inhabitants New Zealand and theirs was a rich repertoire of culture and tradition. These varied from the myths, legends, songs and dances, rituals and beliefs and all other aspects of culture and tradition practiced by the Maori. The Maori Haka is one of the most famous traditions and refers to all types of Maori dances. There were Haka mainly for the men and particularly the warriors, for the women, mixed groups and the simple Haka for the children. The Maori Haka mate has been made popular today by the New Zealand rugby team also known as the All Blacks and by the Kiwi rugby league where teams perform before their matches.

The Maori Haka had a big reputation such that the tribe literally depended on it. The complex performances were an expression of vigor, passion and were an identity of the tribe. The dances were used as a pastime to derive enjoyment and bring the Maori together, welcome and entertain guests and visitors of the tribe, recognize achievement, by warriors before war and for many other reasons different from the notion many people have that the Haka are exclusively war songs and dances performed by men. The origin of the dances is traced back to the sun god and the summer maid called Tama-nui-to -ra and Hine-raumati respectively. The original warrior dance was composed by a warrior chief by the name Te Rauparaha who upon surviving the onslaught of the enemy was jubilant of the escape. The haka performed during war were called peruperu. An example of this is the ka-mate Haka and is the popular Maori Haka performed by the all blacks as an embodiment of preparedness, determination, skill and commitment as was resplendent with the warriors of the Maori just before war. The war haka had to performed in unison to appease the gods of the Maori.

In present times, the Maori Haka is performed without the traditional weapons but they have not lost the various vigorous actions that accompany the dances. The actions are varied and employ a lot of vigor and they include slapping the hands against the thighs, doing contortions of the face, poking out the tongue, stamping the feet, chest thumping and popping out the eyes to show the corneas (white of the eye). These actions are performed alongside of chanted words, war cries and noises. These movements and the synchrony created will express many feelings like those of courage, joy, irritation among others that may be demanded by an occasion.

The different genres of the Maori Haka are peruperu the war dances, tutu ngarahu which involved jumping; ngeri performed without weapons, Manawa wera haka a funeral dirge. Others are haka taparahi the ceremonial dances, the whakatu waewae and the ka panapana performed by the women. Presently when on a visit to New Zealand, you can get to enjoy performances of the Haka at the traditional Maori theaters and festivals and even get the history of the Maori, the meanings and the translations to the different Haka and come to appreciate the dances and culture of the Maori among other aspects like carving and tattoos.


Maori Haka website
Maori haka site explaining what 'haka' actually is and what it means, as well as the many different styles of haka. Focussing on Ka mate, the haka performed by the All Blacks, there are a few paragraphs on its origin, a translation of the words, and a brief description of how it relates to rugby.
NZ Maori Haka

New Zealand Maori Haka

The haka is a composition played by many instruments. Hands, feet, legs, body, voice, tongue, and eyes all play their part in blending together to convey in their fullness the challenge, welcome, exultation, defiance or contempt of the words. It is disciplined, yet emotional. More than any other aspect of Maori culture, this complex dance is an expression of the passion, vigour and identity of the race. It is at it's best, truly, a message of the soul expressed by words and posture.

New Zealand maori haka, known also as the New Zealand maori war dance, and maori war chant.
Watch the haka and learn to haka.