The Haka..............

What is Haka? The Maori people have always excelled in the art of haka, which is the generic term for Maori dance. Henare Teowai of Ngati Porou, an acknowledged master of the art of haka was asked on his death-bed, "What is the art of performing haka?". He replied: "Kia korero te katoa o te tinana." (The whole body should speak). Another definition was provided by Alan Armstrong in his book Maori Games and Haka (Reed,1964) as follows. "The haka is a composition played by any instruments. Hands, feet, legs, body, voice, tongue, and eyes all play their part in blending together to convey in their fullness the challenge, welcome, exultation, defiance or contempt of the words." "It is disciplined, yet emotional. More than any other aspect of Maori culture, this complex dance is an expression of the passion, vigour and identity of the race. It is at it's best, truly, a message of the soul expressed by words and posture.." One of the initial refrains which the leader of the haka utters just prior to everyone performing the haka itself is shown below. These words simply serve to remind the performers how to comport themselves when they do the haka. They should be shouted out in a ferocious and staccato manner, designed to instil strength and determination into the performers, such that they enact the haka with the power and force required


Perparation for Haka

Ringa pakia Uma tiraha
Turi whatia
Hope whai ake
Waewae takahia kia kino

Slap the hands against the thighs
Puff out the chest
Bend the knees
Let the hip follow
Stamp the feet as hard as you can

Also essential to the art of haka are pukana (dilating of the eyes), whetero (protruding of the tongue performed by men only), ngangahu (similar to pukana, performed by both sexes), and potete (the closing of the eyes at different points in the dance, performed by the women only). These expressions are used at various times in the performance to lend meaning and force to the words. It is important to realise that haka are generally not uniformly enacted, with all participants acting in time. The best haka involve a good deal of spontaneity and creativity as the performers interpret the words and feel the power of the haka take hold of them.

The Words Of KA MATE!

Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!
Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!
Tenei te tangata puhuru huru
Nana nei i tiki mai

Whakawhiti te ra
A upa ... ne! ka upa ... ne!
A upane kaupane whiti te ra!
Hi !!!

I die! I die! I live! I live!
I die! I die! I live! I live!
This is the hairy man
Who fetched the Sun
And caused it to shine again
One upward step! Another upward step!
An upward step, another.. the Sun shines!!