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The Haka

The Haka is a traditional, ancestral war cry, dance or challenge of the Maori. The haka has a rich history of folklore and legend that reflects the unqiue Maori heritage. It has been immersed in the New Zealand culture since the arrival of the Europeans.

Haka. Copyright: James Heremaia ([email protected])

According to legend, the haka was derived from the sun of god Ra. His two wives encompassed the two basic seasons: Hine-raumati - the essence of summer, and Hine-takurua - the essence of winter.

Ra and Hine-raumati gave birth to a son called Tanerore. As she was the essence of summer, legend holds that the light dancing on hot summer days is Hine-raumati's son, Tanerore, performing for his mother. The trembling shimmer is reflected in the trembling of the haka performer's hands.

Maori myths and legends feature many stories about the haka.

Today the haka is used by many sporting teams, events, schools and in welcoming guests onto a marae. Along with our national anthem, The All Blacks perform the intimidating challenge with passion and pride before kick off to each game.

The regular use of the haka has reclaimed the dignity and mystique attached to this traditional art form, and made this unique dance an icon of New Zealand.

The New Zealand Army also has its own unique haka, opened and ended by female soldiers, acknowledging their special place in the armed forces.

Read more about the Maori