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Haka

kapa haka maori cultural events and functions te wehi haka
kapa haka warrior

What is Haka?

The haka is a type of ancient Māori war dance traditionally used on the battlefield, as well as when groups came together in peace.

Haka are a fierce display of a tribe's pride, strength and unity. Actions include violent foot-stamping, tongue protrusions and rhythmic body slapping to accompany a loud chant. The words of a haka often poetically describe ancestors and events in the tribe's history.

The Haka is definitely something amazing to behold when performed well and it requires strict discipline. It is a great character-building exercise with the power to connect the performers to themselves, their past and their present.

Tapeta Wehi is a great believer in the power of the body, where every muscle and sinew should burn with virility to exude emotion, to display anger, abhorrence, protest or love, tenderness and grace. The Haka allows the performer to display this like nothing else.

Different Forms Of Haka

There are many forms of Haka where these movements are performed well with or without weapons:

  • The Tutungaruhu ( a dance by a party of armed men who jump from side to side)
  • Ngeri ( a short Haka with no set moves performed without weapons to face with the enemy)
  • Haka Taparahi is performed without weapons
  • Peruperu ( a dance with weapons where the men leap off the ground up and down performed face to face with the enemy.

These are just a few examples of the different types of Haka.

Kapa Haka Performance
Kapa Haka

The passionate Haka movements are only as good as the messages they must express.

Tapeta Wehi, Founder Of The Haka Experience says:

“I believe a Haka should be controversial and challenging. Whatever the occasion, I see the lyrics as the most important aspect; the tune, the rhythm and body movement are purely the vehicles for the communication of its message.”

The uniformity of movement and message is what should be pursued. The message should always be paramount, the Reo therefore becomes a crucial component to the Haka. Haka has always been associated with war but in today's World, the wars are not hand to hand combat but have been politically oriented.

Haka has become an avenue to share the message whether it be social, political environmental issues so that our voice can be heard throughout the Globe. Haka provide our people with a warning about an issue followed by a solution or words of encouragement.

Today, haka are still used during Māori ceremonies and celebrations to honour guests and show the importance of the occasion. We see this at many different occasions or gatherings.

Your stance should be that of a Whare nui (meeting House).The head is alert and vigilant like the tekoteko, the arms stretched out like the Maihi, the chest should be erect like the Whare, The body must stand fast, not sway, the stance must be firm when you see all these aspects together you will be filled with awe! The hairs on the back of your neck will stand on end!

Kapa Haka Music

The Benefits Of Haka

The uniformity of movement and message is what should be pursued. The message should always be paramount, the Reo therefore becomes a crucial component to the Haka. Haka has always been associated with war but in today's World, the wars are not hand to hand combat but have been politically oriented.

Haka has become an avenue to share the message whether it be social, political environmental issues so that our voice can be heard throughout the Globe. Haka provide our people with a warning about an issue followed by a solution or words of encouragement.

Today, haka are still used during Māori ceremonies and celebrations to honour guests and show the importance of the occasion. We see this at many different occasions or gatherings.

Your stance should be that of a Whare nui (meeting House).The head is alert and vigilant like the tekoteko, the arms stretched out like the Maihi, the chest should be erect like the Whare, The body must stand fast, not sway, the stance must be firm when you see all these aspects together you will be filled with awe! The hairs on the back of your neck will stand on end!

kapa haka maori cultural events and functions te wehi haka

Why is the Haka Important?

The Maori use Haka as a vehicle for their people to find themselves especially those Maori who have been raised in the cities and have lost their connection or ties to there Turangawaewae (Tribal upbringing).

Through Haka, they are able to find that connection.

Tapeta Wehi, Founder Of The Haka Experience says: “I have had many youths come through my doors over the last 25 years, a lot of these kids are affiliated with gangs and kicked out of Schools. The change I see in these kids is quite unbelievable... Haka is a powerful tool, these kids get to learn about there Whakapapa (genealogy), Tikanga (Maori lore), Tipuna (ancestors), Atua Maori (Maori gods) and most importantly it reconnects them to themselves.”

Tapeta goes further to explain, “It instils pride... proud to know who they are and where they come from. Identity is the essence for any kid it  helps to steer our youth in the right direction to help face the many challenges that may lie ahead.”

kapa haka maori warrior with taiaha on beach

The History of Haka

The first Kapa Haka (troupe) of Maoridom is said to be the women of Tinirauwhose principal function was to go out to destroy Kae who had slain and eaten Tutunui, the tame whale of Tinirau.

Tinirau had permitted Kae to return to his home on the back of Tutunui. Upon arrival Kae refused to dismount , and the whale, in it's endeavours to unseat Kae, became stranded and was killed and eaten by Kae.

Tinirau waited for the return of his pet whale but because of the delay came to the conclusion that some calamity had befallen Tutunui. Tinirau eventually realised that Kae had killed and eaten his whale.

Tinirau then called his best Women performers and sent them off to capture Kae. None of the women knew Kae but would told they would recognise him by the gap in his teeth. To do that they would have to cause him to laugh and it was felt the women troupe could easily achieve that then a troupe of men. The women set about their task of entertaining the people with enthusiasm and concluded their very own performance with a Haka. The Haka was so effective that it caused Kae to laugh, thus exposing the gap in his teeth.

By means of appropriate incantation Kae was rendered unconscious and returned by the women to their home where he was killed by Tinirau thereby avenging the death of his pet whale Tinirau. According to some iwi this was the first encounter of Haka.

Today Haka captures the history, the power of the language, the power of the music and the absolute wairua of te ao Māori.  I think it’s a important component of the Māori world.  Haka is more then just a Māori cultural performance its  linked to the ritual and has evolved out of the ritual that we now have on the marae, including pōwhiri, whaikōrero, and  waiata.

Haka is the distinctive face of Māori culture, and also of Aotearoa New Zealand, to the world.  Its seen as a  platform for engaging with Māori knowledge, language and culture it’s that point of difference in the international market place;  a source of identity and distinction. In the modern world of today Haka is a  vehicle for the protection and promotion of Māori culture and the language.

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Testimonials

customer sportsnet holidays logo

Thank you for putting on a great show at our Auckland NRL Nines event, the crowd loved every moment of it.



Kelly Stock - Sportsnet Holidays
Events & Promotions Manager

olympus testimonial about kapa haka performance

We had guests from our overseas Olympus offices as well as customers from the medical, scientific and industrial fields from throughout NZ, all of whom were thoroughly impressed by your team last night. Our guests were so moved by what you shared of our culture, with some quite emotional afterwards, even shedding a tear or two, and our senior management team are still talking about it today! Some of our NZ guests had never had the opportunity to see our culture that close-up and it emphasised with them how unique, strong and proud our Maori culture and heritage is.



Melanie Buxton - Olympus NZ
Customer Operations Manager

usana

I wanted to take this time to properly connect, the USANA family felt the aroha that's for sure and that's exactly what I had hoped for too! Some cried, many got emotional and some blown away literally! The emotions that were spoken forward were a connection hundreds if not all, hadn't felt in a very long time and ignited a ripple effect of hope and a sense of belonging too! Thank you very much.



Simone Edwards - USANA Health Sciences (NZ) Corporation

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