The Haka is a type of traditional group dance originated by the Maori people of New Zealand. There are many different types of Hakas several of which are in the list below. Most Hakas involve vigorous movements and incorporates chants. This dance's origins date far back in Maori history and is an important part of these people's culture. Below you will find a list of interesting facts about the Haka including how it originated, when it is performed, and who performs the Haka.
Interesting Maori Haka Dance Facts
Contrary to popular belief Hakas are not all war dances; Hakas are performed for numerous reasons and occasions.
Performers in a haka use many body motions and expressions which may include bulging eyes, sticking out of the tongue, stomping feet, and slapping the body with their hands.
Most traditional Hakas are performed only by men where some included women in singing roles only.
Mention of Hakas are found in numerous Maori legends and myths.
Before the arrival of Europeans on New Zealand a Haka was performed when two groups came together.
The New Zealand rugby team the All Blacks perform Hakas before matches. This has greatly risen world awareness and appreciation for this dance type.
The Maori still perform the Haka when welcoming guests, to honor the occasion. When British Prince William and Kate Middleton visited New Zealand in 2014 they were greeted with a performance of a Haka.
During the World War 1 Battle of Gallipoli a New Zealand regiment made up of Maori soldiers launched a fearsome attack on an enemy position. The Maori drove the enemy from their position and to celebrate performed a Haka before moving on to their next objective.
In August of 2012 a video clip went viral of Maori soldiers from the 1st and 2nd Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment performing a Haka to honor fellow soldiers who had recently been killed in Afghanistan.
Maori Haka Dance Types
This Haka involves the warriors standing upright and stamping their feet. No weapons were utilized in this dance. This Haka was particularly performed by the Tuhoe people who traditionally lived on the eastern end of the North Island of New Zealand; a thickly forested area where Lake Waikaremoana is located.
This Haka involved side to side jumping and was a precursor to battle. The performance involved the war party holding weapons.
This Haka was a true war dance traditionally performed while facing the enemy. Its purpose was to intimidate and demoralize the enemy. The war party held weapons during the performance. This dance features unified leaps.
The purpose of this Haka was to motivate warriors; to "summon up the blood". This dance was very expressive with no defined moves. The warriors would express their emotions and feelings through their performance.
Mainly associated with death and funerals this Haka involved no weapons. The dancers had freedom of expression in the moves which were not choreographed.
New Zealand's international rugby team the All Blacks have made this Haka famous by performing it at their games. This Haka was created by a Maori chief and war leader named Te Rauparaha. It is a ceremonial Haka he created to celebrate his escape from enemy warriors who were chasing him. The Haka starts with a chant beginning with "Will I die, Will I die, Will I live, Will I live".