Every rugby fan has seen the Haka that the national team of New Zealand performs before every game – for some it may look strange or even funny but for the Maori it is a very spiritual and important ritual.
Depending on the occasion the Haka has various meanings and can be interpreted differently. The main reason it’s been performed is to scare the enemy in the beginning of a war. There’re two possible outcomes – either the enemy ends up too scared, runs away and there’s no war or it didn’t scare them enough and the war begins. The Haka can be used to thank someone, to pay respect or to show love. The more aggressive it is performed the more powerful tool it becomes.
The Haka was originally performed by men and women did only the light beautiful version of it. However, if a man dies in war his woman has to stand up, perform the Haka and fight for her life and the life of their children.
Hongi & Haka at Haka World Rotorua
Haka World has a very interactive and learning approach! Tiki (the Haka teacher) makes sure that everyone understands the meaning of the Haka and what every single word stands for as well as the fierce actions and postures. Haka World teaches everyone – women & men how to perform it and let their spirit and aggression lead them.
Before the beginning of the main lesson a brief explanation about the Hongi is given and everyone have their Hongi with the organizers of the Haka World school. Hongi is a Maori greeting which is considered to be more intimate and crucial than a normal handshake. People touch with noses and breathe out at the same time. The meaning of the breathing in and out while touching noses is that those greeting share the air between themselves and this way they greet each other. This is done 2 times because the first time they meet while sharing the air and the second time their ancestors meet. Maori consider that this is the only way ancestors can meet and greet – through the living generation. For them the ground, the sky and the air are very crucial.
The Haka lesson begins with a story from the past about the chief from whom this complex dance evolved. As in every story a woman who saved the chief is involved. The Maori fully respect their women as they are the ones who give birth and take care of the new generation.
Haka World teaches you how to pronounce and perform the Haka which the All Blacks do. That’s not the whole dance – it includes its last part only. After you’ve learned the words and feel confident about it, you will get to learn the actions and postures next. Tiki is always careful with the teaching pace as it’s not so easy for everyone to learn the words and combine them with the actions! What’s guaranteed is the FUN you’ll have at the end of the lesson!
Haka World have prepared a special place with a Marae in front of which the students perform the Haka. The ground on which the Marae is built is very sacred and spiritually important for the Maori. So it comes the time when you have to dress up in Maori traditional warrior clothes and perform the Haka with aggression and tension. From personal experience I admit it may be very difficult to get in the right mood and get your mind around it, but when it happens – you become unstoppable!
What Haka World do is they not only take photos of you all doing the Haka but as well record it and at the end of the day you have some material memories to share with your family and friends!