The Haka

big houseWith a day of caving done we headed off to stay the night with a Maori tribe at their traditional Wharenui (ritual big house) to learn about their culture and way of life in New Zealand.

After exiting the bus, performing some ritual greetings were we touch nose to nose and dropping our bags in the Wharenui we headed off to dinner.   When the meal was finished the tribe performed a couple traditional dances for us one of them being the famous Haka.

The Haka as it’s known to the Maori people of New Zealand is a traditional war cry/ group dance.   The Haka is a combination of tribal dance, chanting,  angry/scary facial expressions that is performed by Maori warriors before they went to battle to intimidate their opponents.  It was not only used for battle but also for amusement, as a welcome to distinguished guests, acknowledge great achievements, and funerals.

When their performance was complete we split up into two groups one male one female and we quickly found out that the men would be learning and performing the Haka.   After 15 mins of rushed practicing we headed back to the dining hall to watch the girls do the “Poi”  which is dance involving swinging a weighted ball on a rope around in a variety patterns.  Shortly after it was our turn and walking to the front of the room we removed our shirts to show our manly bare chests and started the Haka.  Chanting,pounding our feet,slapping our chest/arms, and making the most scary faces we could possible muster we performed the ancient dance the best we could for only getting 15 minutes to learn it.  As I said before the dance was used by Maori for intimidating and scaring their enemies and I couldn’t tell whether we were 1: scaring the Ladies with our fierce warrior faces or  2: performing a very comical version of the Haka but the laughs, smiles, and pointing coming from the crowd of women had me leaning towards the latter of the two 🙂haha

The New Zealand All Blacks rugby team performs the haka before matches and is considered by some the greatest ritual in world sports.   Here is a video of them performing it before the 2011 Rugby world Cup final match were they defeated France 8-7 to win the cup.

Next Stray Bus Post: Christmas in Lake Taupo




Filed under New Zealand, Stray bus stops

2 responses to “The Haka

  1. Rosanne

    I want a video of you and you’re buddies doing it! That’s great Josh! You’ll have to teach it to us when you get home! Miss you bro!

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