Arts and Popular Culture

Kia ora tātou! (Hello!)

The Māoris have a rich history related to the culture and arts. Take, for instance, the native language. The Māori language is considered a national taonga, treasure, and is spoken by 23-percent of the population. Similar to most native cultures in the Polynesian Triangle, the native language is going through a revival period in which initiatives sponsored by schools, media, and the government supports this revival (Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language). However, despite only 23-percent of Māori’s population speaking the language, the language is widely known – as well as the culture. Cultural acts, like the Haka, is performed before sporting events as the team’s battle cry. This has heavy influence in the United States as the University of Hawai‘i – Mānoa football team performs the traditional act prior to each game (“University of Hawaii Haka – Hawaii Haka”).

The Haka is a traditional dance of the Māori people. Since its founding, participation has evolved to the following: the men perform the traditional dance while chanting the lyrics while the women provide vocal support (“The Haka”).

Seen above is the Haka, performed by the New Zealand National Rugby Union Team during the All Blacks versus Argentina championship game in 2015. The words, which the team chanted, and English translations, are listed below ( “All Blacks vs Argentina Rugby Championship 2015 Haka”; Kwek).


Ka Mate! Ka Mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!

I die! I die! I live! I live!

Ka Mate! Ka Mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!

I die! I die! I live! I live!

Tenei te tangata puhuru huru

This is the hairy man

Nana nei I tiki mai

Who fetched the sun

Whakawhiti te ra

And caused it to shine again

A upa – ne! ka upa  – ne!

One upward step! Another upward step!

A upane kaupane whiti te ra!

An upward step, another… the sun shines!

Hi!

(Vocal expression)


The Haka is viewed as a national anthem and has been performed by the New Zealand National Rugby Union Team since 1888 under the permission of the Ngati Porou iwi. The above Haka, which is also known as Ka mate, ka mate, was written by Te Rauparaha, who was a warrior chief in the early 1800s. Legend has it that Te Rauparaha composed the Haka in a ditch  while running away from an enemy tribe (Kwek).

However, Māori historians claim that the origin of the Haka has a different story. Another Māori legend states that the sun God, Tamanuitora, had two wives: Hineraumati, the summer maid, and Hinetakurua, the winter maid. The child born to Tamanuitora and the summer maid, Tanerore, is credited for the creation of this dance. Tanerore translates to the trembling air on a hot summers day – this is represented by the shaking of the hands throughout the Haka (“The Haka”).

Through actions like the shaking of hands to represent “Tanerore,” the trembling air on a hot summers day, the Haka represents the passion, vigor, and identity of the Māori ancestors. The motions reflect the concerns and issues faced by their ancestors, defiance or protest to authority, or a simply to tell a story. For example, looking at the step-by-step Haka chart to the right, the motions for “Ka,” “Ma,” and “Te” call for attention while symbolizing life and death. The English translations for the aforementioned phrase is “I die! I die! I live! I live!,” which also represents the Māori ancestors (“The Haka”).

As previously mentioned, the video seen at the top of the webpage (“All Blacks vs Argentina Rugby Championship 2015 Haka”) has been performed by the New Zealand National Rugby Union Team. The Haka has close relations with the rugby team since an 1888 tour by the “New Zealand Natives,” which was led by Joseph Warbrick. The meaning behind the Haka remained the same – the cultural performance signaled a war act while its mystique prior to a rugby game continues to highlight the fierce determination, commitment, and high level skill one must have during a rugby game (“The Haka”).

Below is an addition to the previous Haka that the New Zealand National Rugby Union Team adopted and used since 2005. The Haka is called Kapa O Pango and was written by Derek Llardelli (Kwek).


Kapa O Pango kia whakawhenua au I ahau!

Let me become one with the land

Hi aue ii! Ko Aotearoa e ngunguru nei!

This is our land that rumbles

Au, au aue ha!

And it’s my time! It’s my moment!

Ko Kapa O Pango e ngunguru nei!

This defines us as the All Blacks

Au, au, aue ha!

It’s my time! It’s my moment!

I ahaha! Ka tu te ihiihi

Our dominance

Ka tu te wanawana

Our supremacy will triumph

Ki runga ki te rangi e tu iho nei, tu iho nei ihi!

And will be placed on high

Ponga ra!

Silver fern!

Kapa O Pango, aue hi!

All Blacks!

Ponga ra!

Silver fern!

Kapa O Pango, aue hi, ha!

All Blacks!


The updated Haka (seen above) was first performed by the New Zealand National Rugby Union Team during the Tri Nations Test match against South Africa. The updated Haka focuses on the relationship between the land, the silver fern, and the New Zealand National Rugby Union Team, which is also refereed to as the All Blacks (“The Haka”).

Above, Tana Umaga, the captain of the New Zealand National Rugby Union Team in 2005 explains why this portion of the Haka was added to the team’s tradition (“Kapa O Pango – Why it was added”). Below the “Kapo o Pango – Why it was added” video is “Kapo o Pango explained.” The video is an explanation of the New Zealand National Rugby Union Team added Haka performance by Derek Llardelli, the creator of the piece (“Kapo o Pango explained”).

As originally stated, the Haka has influence in the United States as the University of Hawai‘i – Mānoa football team performs the traditional act prior to each game since 2006. It was introduced to the University’s football team by Tala Esera and since been performed exactly 20 minutes before the start of the game. Following home game wins, the University of Hawai’i – Mānoa “Warriors” football team would perform an encore performance for the crowd. Similar to the New Zealand National Rugby Union Team, University of Hawai’i – Mānoa “Warriors” have their own version of the Haka, called “Kapa O Pango” (“University of Hawaii Haka – Hawaii Haka”).

Prior to a season opener game against Oregon State, the University of Hawai’i “Warriors” were warned that the football team may be infringing on copyright violations by performing the dance. As a result, a variation of the Haka was created specifically for their football team’s game against Oregon State and a new version was performed at the team’s Hawai’i Bowl appearance against Arizona State and can be seen below (“University of Hawaii Haka – Hawaii Haka”; “Hawaii Pregame Haka vs. Ohio State 2015”).

Unlike with the New Zealand National Rugby Union Team, the University of Hawai’i – Mānoa “Warriors” were condemned for their performance of the Haka before a game against Louisiana Tech. The Western Athletic Conference questioned whether the Haka was a demonstration of Polynesian pride or offensive to Louisiana Tech. University of Hawai’i – Mānoa “Warriors” head coach, June Jones, stated the performance was done out of respect to the culture – not to threaten or offend the opposing team (“Hawaii Must Not Perform ‘haka’ with Other Team on Field”).

Other universities or schools around the world that perform the Haka are Brigham Young, Kahuku Red Raiders, Trinity, Jefferson, Saint. Edward, Munster Rugby, Bethesda, University of Arizona, Seaside, Menlo-Atherton, Long Beach Poly, Birmingham, Helix Charter, American Fork, Monterrey Borregos Salvajes,  Redlands East Valley, Ville Platte, Livingston, Avon, Anglo-Chinese, Northern Arizona, Mesa, Highland, and Saint Petersburg (“University of Hawaii Haka – Hawaii Haka”).

Returning to New Zealand, on November 18, 2015 Jonah Lomu, one of New Zealand National Rugby Union Team players, passed away as a result of kidney failure. His passing led to New Zealand’s Sports Minister, Jonathan Coleman, saying that Lomu was the first world wide rugby star while New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, stating the country’s support for Lomu’s family (“Jonah Lomu: New Zealand Rugby Union Great Dies Aged 40”). At Jonah Lomu’s funeral, his former teammates paid their respects to the great rugby player by performing a special Haka to commemorate his passing. Below is the video of the Haka at his funeral followed, in part, by an ancient Māoli chant (“Jonah Lomu’s former teammates perform an emotional final haka”).

As previously mentioned, the Māoris have a rich history related to the culture and arts. Māori’s native language, which is considered a national taonga, treasure, and is spoken by 23-percent of the population, is the root to the country’s culture and arts despite going through a revival period for its language (Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language). Cultural acts, like the Haka, is performed before sporting events as the team’s battle cry. It is also used as a way of paying respect to their ancestors as well as those who have recently passed away. The art behind the Haka greatly influenced the United States as the University of Hawai‘i – Mānoa football team, as well as many other schools and Universities, performs the traditional act prior to each game or for traditional events (“University of Hawaii Haka – Hawaii Haka”).