Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

Farewell Haka


Some non-kiwis may have seen the haka performed, possibly before a sports event where a NZ national team is represented. Perhaps the most famous haka is that performed by the All Blacks (our national rugby team), “Ka Mate“. 

You may know that the haka originated as a Maori war dance to instil fear in an opponent, to raise the moral of the performers by psyching themselves up and calling on the god of war for assistance. The were highly choreographed and performed with precision timing. these are known as peruperu haka.

What you may not realise is that another form of haka evolved over time and is known as ngeri haka. Here the purpose is not to cause fear, but to psychologically move both the performers and the viewers. In ngeri haka movement is more free to allow each individual the express his or her feelings. The haka has become part of the NZ identity and is performed at weddings, funerals, sports fixtures, local events, and on many other occasions. It is performed by both Maori and Pakeha (non-Maori), men and women, young and old.

Two weeks ago, a colleague at the high school where my wife teaches died suddenly. He was greatly admired and respected by both students and staff. At the commencement of the funeral, over 1700 students welcomed the funeral procession onto the school grounds with a haka. I didn’t attend, but my wife said it was a very moving and emotional occasion, but that unfortunately the clip below, doesn’t fully convey the the effect the haka had on those attending. 

Rest in peace Dawson Tamatea.

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and was diagnosed as being autistic aged sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

5 thoughts on “Farewell Haka

  1. Thank you for posting this, Barry. The first video was moving to me in itself, as a powerful cultural tradition; the second video made me cry. The haka seems an apt way to express the rawness of grief and the power of community.

    • Thank you EA. I’m convinced that the haka is a powerful and safe way for groups/communities to to express themselves communally – be that in grief, joy, respect or challenging.

      Unfortunately too many people outside NZ, and a vocal minority inside, see it as no more than war dance of a stone age people that has no place amongst “civilised” society. I strongly disagree.

  2. I’ve never seen this before Barry. Awesome – I enjoyed both forms of Haka very much – very powerful. Don’t ever let them take away your traditions.

    • I am Pakeha, not Maori, so historically, the haka is not traditional. Maori make up somewhere between fifteen and twenty percent of the
      population, and with the resurgence of Maori culture, some of it is rubbing off on the rest of the population. The haka was probably the first
      tradition to make it into the wider community, and an increasing amount of Maori vocabulary is making its way into everyday language. Other customs such as powhiri (blessing ceremonies) and karakia (prayer) are now widely practised on official or special occasions. Some fundamental and conservative Pakeha Christians oppose such traditions as being animistic and therefore should be stamped out. But most people, religious or not recognise these ceremonies are religious only if one wishes them to be. The are more spiritual than religious.

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