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.