The Maori HAKA 
"Haka" is a Maori war dance. The words are chanted loudly (shouted) in a menacing way accompanied by arm actions and foot stamping. A haka was traditionally performed before charging into battle. As I understand, right before battle, the Maoris warriors would do the fight song. I had the chance to see the "haka" (and take part in it) when I went to see the Maori presentation at Rotorua, which is on the North Island of New Zealand. The New Zealand Rugby Team (the "All Blacks") will do the "Haka" prior to their games. That is an experience!! I also had the experience while staying with New Zealand friends in Sydney, Australia, to watch these friends do the HAKA in front of the TV when the New Zealand "All Blacks" did it (That's what you call a diehard New Zealander!!!).

The Maori "Haka"

KA MATE! KA MATE! KA ORA! KA ORA! KA MATE! KA MATE! KA ORA! KA ORA! TENEI TE TANGATA PUHURUHURU NANA I TIKI MAI WHAKAWHITI TE RA HAUPANE! HAUPANE! HAUPANE! HAUPANE! WHITI TE RA!

The translation:
Ka mate         Ka mate
It is death     It is death

Ka ora          Ka ora
It is life      It is life

Ka mate         Ka mate
It is death     It is death

Ka ora          Ka ora
It is life      It is life

Tenei Te Tangata Puhuruhuru
This is the hairy man

Nana i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra
Who caused the sun to shine again for me

Upane           Upane
Up the ladder   Up the ladder

Upane   Kaupane
Up to the top

Whiti te ra
The sun shines!

The Maori pronunciation is basically one vowel per syllable, with the vowels having the European rather than English sound. The `wh' is aspirated almost like an `f' (f is good enough for most people). As for what it all means, about 140 years ago, a particularly notorious warlike chief named Te Rauparaha of the Ngati Toa tribe (based just North of present day Wellington), was being chased by his enemies. He hid in a kumara pit (the local sweet potato, only much better) and waited in the dark for his pursuers to find him. He heard sounds above and thought he was done for when the top of the pit was opened up and sunshine flooded in. He was blinded and struggled to see those about to slay him, when his sight cleared and he instead saw the hairy legs of the local chief (reputed to have been exceptionally hirsute) who had hid him. Te Rauparaha is said to have jumped from the pit and performed this haka on the spot, so happy was he to have escaped. Undoubtedly, he also had in his mind to do a little pursuing of his own --- Te Rauparaha being that way inclined was he. 

Here is a link that shows the "Haka" in action (thanks to Nš Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara of www.culture.co.nz who sent me the link).

 

 Here is a link to Useful links to Maori culture web sites

  If you're interested in seeing the Haka performed by the Maoris, there are 2 videos that can be purchased (No, I do not get a cut of the purchase and no I do not sell them,  I know nothing else about these videos, so if you email me about buying a video, you won't get a reply from me!!!). If you're interested, contact: New Zealand Video Tours LTD/P.O. Box 34-422/Auckland 10/New Zealand ask for (Either or both): 1) The Maori 2)Te Amokura at Te aronui-A-Rua Make sure you tell them what format (US or PAL)  

    

Last Update: November 21, 2004, while daydreaming about New Zealand (But then I do that everyday!!)