The Maori Haka

The haka is now commonly known amongst New Zealanders, and the globe.

It features a war-like dance, which was in fact traditionally used during wartimes, but also in peaceful ceremonies. It was thought to display pride, unity and strength amongst a tribe.

The haka often includes actions like showing the tongue, slapping the body and stamping one's foot. The 'words' of the haka change, and there are actually numerous hakas.

Each of the hakas have a different meaning, where they'll differ depending on the occasion.

Haka and the All Blacks

Perhaps what's made the the most well-known is the All Blacks. They perform the Haka before every Rugby match, which has given the cultural dance a global notoriety. As a source of great national pride, many Kiwis are proud to see the haka performed before games, while opponents can find it intimidating.

Different Maori Hakas

Whakatu Waewae

This Haka involves the warriors standing upright and stamping their feet. No weapons were utilized in this dance. This Haka was particularly performed by the Tuhoe people who traditionally lived on the eastern end of the North Island of New Zealand; a thickly forested area where Lake Waikaremoana is located.

Tutu Ngarahu

This Haka involved side to side jumping and was a precursor to battle. The performance involved the war party holding weapons.

Peruperu

This Haka was a true war dance traditionally performed while facing the enemy. Its purpose was to intimidate and demoralize the enemy. The war party held weapons during the performance. This dance features unified leaps.

Ngeri

The purpose of this Haka was to motivate warriors; to "summon up the blood". This dance was very expressive with no defined moves. The warriors would express their emotions and feelings through their performance.

Manawa wera

Often performed at death and funerals, this Haka doesn't feature any weapons. Most notably, the moves aren't choreographed.

Ka Mate

This is the haka that you see at international Rugby games, performed by the All Blacks. Created by a Maori chief, Te Rauparaha, it celebrates the escape from enemy warriors who chased the war leader.

Other Pacific nations have a haka too

That's right, other Pacific nations, like Fiji, have a haka too. Like New Zealand, these dances originate back from wartimes against other nations or tribes.

Nations with a Haka include:

Fiji

Samoa

Tonga

The 'Ka Mate' (All Blacks haka) words

KA MATE! KA MATE!
We're going to die! We're going to die!
We were at war

Chorus
KA ORA, KA ORA!
We're going to live! We're going to live!
But now there is peace
Leader
KA MATE! KA MATE!
We're going to die! We're going to die!
We thought we were all going to die

Chorus
KA ORA, KA ORA!
We're going to live! We're going to live!
But now we are safe

All together
TENEI TE TANGATA PU'RU-HURU
This is the man, so hairy
Because our leader, so strong and masculine

NA'A NEI TIKI MAI WHAKA-WHITI TE ...
Who fetched, and made shine the
Has unified us and brought back the sunny days of
... RA! UPANE! KA UPANE!
Sun! Together! All together ... !
Peace. We are all working in harmony, side by side

A UPANE! KA UPANE!
Together! All together ... !
Moving in unison like the hairs on our chief's legs

WHITI TE RA!
To sun shines!
To prolong these sunny days of peace

HI !
Yeah!

Interested in the Maori haka? Take a look at this book on Maori weapons!

Learn about Maori Weapons here.