What is the Haka?
Have you ever watched a rugby match? The All Blacks are New Zealand’s national rugby team and at the start of a game, the team perform a scary war dance called the Haka!
The rugby team follow the leader by chanting, stamping their feet, sticking out their tongues, slapping their bodies and making their eyes look wide and fierce in order to frighten the enemy — or the other team in this case! Although it was sometimes danced in peaceful gatherings, this traditional war dance was most often performed by Maori tribes before battle, to show off their strength, courage and teamwork to those they were about to fight. Nowadays, the Haka is seen during special Maori ceremonies and of course, at the start of New Zealand rugby matches!
Who are the Maoris?
As the American Indians are the United States’ first people, Maoris are New Zealand’s. They are known throughout the world, for their brave warrior past! They first left their Polynesian homeland around 1200 years, rowing by canoe all the way to New Zealand. In times past, they lived in hut-like homes within villages and were led by their tribal chief.
Maori culture is rich in ceremony, song and dance and artwork. Besides, the Haka, there are many other Maori songs which have actions to go with them. Maoris have a very strong connection to their family, ancestors and their tribe and children tend to be raised by the entire family, rather than just by mums and dads. Nature and the Gods who are believed to control earth and nature were also important to traditional Maori life.
It is customary for Maori men and women to have striking decorative markings, called ta moko which are kind of like tattoos, carved into their faces and bodies. All the different patterns tell other Maoris important information, such as who someone’s ancestors were, what their place in the tribe is and even that a young lady is ready to marry!
Rather than hugging or shaking hands to greet each other; Maoris put their foreheads together so that their noses touch! This is called the hongi and is believed to blend the two people’s spirits.
By Deborah L. Caine (Whyzz writer)