THE HAKA DANCE OF WAR – NEW ZEALAND

HAKA DANCE, NEW ZEALAND

The All Blacks do the Haka during the England versus New Zealand autumn international rugby union match at Twickenham Stadium on November 16th 2013 in London (Photo by Tom Jenkins)

Haka dance is a Maori war dance from the New Zealand. Haka is a ceremonial dance said to be performed as part of battle preparations. The Maoris are an indigenous community of New Zealand and this ‘war dance’ is said to have been essentially developed to be performed before a battle. There are different types of Haka, and they include ka mate, kapa o pango, whakatu waewae, tutu ngarahu and peruperu. This Maori dance style is renowned for energetic dance movements as well as for loud and aggressive chanting by the performers. The Haka is performed by a group and displays the ‘pride’ and ‘solidarity’ of the tribe.

What is the Haka dance?

The Haka dance is very peculiar in the way the group members chant loudly with aggressive body stances like foot stomping, chest beating, swaying and thigh slapping. The dancers literally stick out the tongues and make rhythmic shouts with wide bulging eyes. To the uninitiated, it may seem a bit daunting and intimidating.

The Haka of New Zealand is now performed in social events, felicitation ceremonies, sports, weddings and even funerals.

Video: Welcome to New Zealand | TIP 005: HAKA by YouTube channel ‘How To Dad

a. History/origin of the Haka Dance:

According to the cultural history of New Zealand and the Maori community, this dance was originally conceived to be performed before battle by warriors so as to essentially intimidate the enemy. However, over the years this dance has been performed mainly as a social dance in functions such as welcome ceremonies rather than before a war.

Furthermore, this dance has also been popularized over the years by the New Zealand Rugby Union team known as the “All Blacks” who perform it prior to every international match they play. Apparently, the origin of this dance is closely linked to a Maori myth related to a sun god named Tama-nui-te-ra worshipped by the community. It is said that this sun god had a wife and son named Hine-raumati and Tane-rore respectively. Now, according to the Maori community, one day the son supposedly danced for his mother. It was this dance performed by Tan-rore that was then used by the community as a foundation to develop this dance now known as “Haka”.

Video on Haka Dance History:

b. Costumes used in the Haka Dance:

While the Haka dance is perceived as a ceremonial battle dance performed by men, it is actually performed by both men and women across a variety of ceremonies in the Maori culture. The traditional “Kapa Haka” costume is mainly used in this dance style. However, this costume varies according to the gender as follows:

1. For men:

The Kapa Haka costume may include a tāniko tātua (belt), Piupiu skirt (flax skirt) and a headband. Tāniko is a Maori weaving technique with coloured yarn involving ‘twinings’. The material used in the tāniko is muka fiber prepared using the New Zealand flax.

2. For women:

The Kapa Haka costume can include elastic shoulder straps, a Piupiu skirt (flax skirt), tāniko bodice (a top made of coloured yarn weaving) and a headband. Some women members may also wear the korowai (cloak).

c. Music involved in the Haka:

No musical instrument or ensemble is actually used in this unique “war” dance. Usually, the performers make use of strong chanting while performing.

d. Training availability and the technique involved in the Haka:

In terms of technique, this war dance basically involves the use of extremely vigorous body movements. Furthermore, the performers also stamp their feet in rhythm with the accompanying chanting. As for training centers/schools, there are practically none around the world since this “war” dance was mainly performed by the Maori community in New Zealand. In the past few decades, the dance has gained popularity due to the performance by the ‘All Blacks’ Rugby team of New Zealand. This has led to many well performed Haka dances recorded and put up on YouTube. If someone or a group wants to learn and perform the Haka, there are a few online videos available as tutorials.

Best Haka Dance Videos

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