What is the haka in New Zealand

Haka - far more than a "war dance"

If you do a little research on the local culture before your trip to New Zealand, you will surely come across the term "Haka“And that this is a dance. But what exactly has it got with that - which seems strange to Europeans - traditional dance on yourself? Is it folklore? A "war dance", as is often claimed? Or is there much more to the impressive demeanor with which Maori perform their choreography? You can find out what is behind "Haka" and what you as a tourist should know about it here.

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The Sun Son's Dance - The Origin of Haka

In Maori mythology, it all started with one Love story. Accordingly, the sun god Ra had two companions: summer and winter. The son Tanerore emerged from the connection with Hine Raumati, the embodiment of summer. It is visible to human eyes in the flickering air on hot summer days: he dances the haka for his mother. The tribute for this is that Shaking hands during the dance.

According to legend, the first people to dance a haka were them Chief Tinirau's wives - and the haka was a ruse: an adversary in an opposing tribe was to be identified, but you only knew that he had conspicuous teeth. What could be more natural than dancing the dance to make the members of the other tribe smile in order to find the culprit?

The haka in everyday culture

The Maori Haka is therefore not originally a war dance. However, this interpretation falls far too short: "Haka" means something like "dance". To reduce it to martial combat behavior would be like equating Viennese waltzes and freestyle headbanging. Haka should do that Increase self-confidence and promote the cohesion of a group - a positive, personality-building experience. From a psychological point of view, the haka can loosen blockages and release personal energies.

Haka as a social event

While haka was traditionally used as a form of diplomatic negotiation between tribes, today it is performed or used during visits by high-ranking figures greeting from guests, occasionally even at the airport. Further common haka are:

  • Taparahi haka - the most popular variant, which requires constant eye contact with the other person.
  • Manawa Wera - at funerals or mourning events.
  • Tika Tonu - on happy occasions such as a twenty-first birthday, weddings, professional promotions, or academic degrees.
  • Tahu Pôtiki - at important events, as motivation and to create a sense of community during crises.
  • Ngeri - for psychological consolidation before challenges.

Haka in rugby

The Haka enjoys a peculiar popularity New Zealand sport. Teams agree before matches with a common hook - often to the amazement of the opposing team, if it is a country game. Haka and rugby are inseparable: The New Zealand team's haka achieved international fame All blackswho danced on the field of play in Australia as early as 1884. The haka has been part of the national team's ritual since the 1980s.

Haka as a war dance

Of course, individual forms of the haka are also war dances. As a layperson, you recognize one motivated to fight Haka that it is danced with weapons. The ritualized war dances like the Peruperu, some of them accompanied with high and wide jumps, are used to display the people Strength and stamina the warrior to frighten the enemy. Under certain circumstances, some hostile confrontations were canceled in advance thanks to the threatening gestures danced.

A symphony of the body - this is how haka is danced

Even if you see Haka in the media mainly danced by male ensembles, it is not a dance for men. Men and women dance Equal rights and certainly in mixed groups. Only on special occasions are the dancers of the same sex for other reasons - for example with the aforementioned sports teams. It finds no gender segregation instead of. Likewise, haka is not necessarily a group dance. It can also be performed as a solo.

Regardless of gender and regardless of whether alone or in a group, haka can in principle be danced by anyone!

Music is taboo!

A haka is always danced without accompanying music, even more: the underlay of the dance with music is considered disrespectful. Instead, elements such as stomping, clapping and, last but not least, the texts called out loudly create a specific rhythm that drives the dancers.

Choir singing and lead voice

All Haka have a verbally recited text, which is staged as an alternating song between the leader and the group.

the language is Mâori, the indigenous diction of the aborigines that has national language status in New Zealand. Parts of the text often consist of movement instructions for the community.

Expressive dance

Haka is an extremely expressive dance in which the use of different body parts, fixed gestures and facial expressions play central roles. Rolling eyes and sticking out your tongue are just as relevant as grimacing.

These Pûkana For the Maori, however, the aforementioned expression technique has a completely serious, symbolic character. Europeans often perceive Haka as aggressive because of the loud calls and the powerful demeanor, which is by no means always the intention of the dancers. The "moves" at Haka include the facial expressions also clapping, stamping, tapping on the arms, chest and thighs as well as lifting and bending the arms and legs and shaking individual parts of the body such as the hands and shoulders.

Haka dance internationally

Haka has its origin in New Zealand, but is now also widespread in Polynesia and the South Pacific region - Samoa, Fiji. New Zealanders abroad give the Dance culture to interested people so that the haka will gradually establish itself in other parts of the world.

Dance classes: how can I learn Haka?

You don't have to be a Maori to practice the haka. There are tutorials on the relevant video platforms and even step-by-step instructions that you can find in the Internet can retrieve. Their quality is mixed; It is worth taking a look in the comment sections for reviews from insiders. It is cool - and a special honor - when you meet real local Maori in the Secrets of the Haka can be inaugurated.

Learn the haka dance

The most beautiful tours on the subject of Haka dance

Are you interested in learning about the Haka and Maori culture on your New Zealand trip? Then check out ours recommended tours around!

Tour: Visit the Auckland Museum with Haka dance show

About a 30-minute walk from Auckland is the Aukland Museum, where you can get an insight into the Maori life can win. The guided tour through the museum is in English and after the performance there is an opportunity to meet and greet with the actors. You can book a day ticket for the museum including the performance here.

However, note: There is no dance performance on Christmas Day and April 25th. The group starts from a common meeting point at the barrier-free museum and enters it while avoiding possible queues.

Tour duration: Ticket valid for 1 day, 30-minute Maori performance of the haka
Begin: The Auckland Museum
Price: 26,62 €


Tour: Visit of the Tamaki Maori village near Rotorua with Maori ceremonies

You can experience Maori culture up close in Rotorua on New Zealand's North Island. There you can visit the Maori village Tamaki as part of a tour. On the tour with an English-speaking guide, you will take part in a traditional welcome ceremony and a dinner with Maori specialties. You will gain insights into warrior training, the art of carving and tattooing and of course into the Haka and the Poi dance.

Click here to book this unique adventure tour. The tour is barrier-free - you can take part as a wheelchair user or with a stroller.

Tour duration: 3.5 hours
Begin: Pick up in Rotorua
Price: 76,96 €


Against the sellout: the Haka as a protected cultural asset

After the haka became better known outside of New Zealand through travelers, reporting and the media, there were attempts from various sides to use the dance and symbolism in their own contexts, for example in commercials. Much to the displeasure of the Maori cultural exploitation and fancy profanation and want to legally enforce the omission.

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