SAPAHM Guest: Nicole Flockton Discussses the Haka

Hi friends! This year’s APAHM celebration has been pretty heavily focused in the Pacific, and I’m loving it! I’m also really pleased to welcome back ALBTALBS friend Nicole Flockton – many kudos to her for stepping in on a Heritage Month post, and with this little slice of [close to] home. <3

The Haka in Sport

When you’re the youngest of four children, and with only one brother, your family tends to follow the sports said brother plays. Even though my brother never played Rugby, it’s a sport and if it was on the television, we watched it as a family. I’m going to show my age here, but this was back in the day when in Perth, Western Australia you had a choice of three television channels. Plus when what your parents wanted to watch—that’s what you watched too. No cable or second television in another room to escape into and watch what you want.

The rivalry between Australia and our cross Tasman foes New Zealand, is legendary. Google “Underarm Bowling Incident 1981” and you’ll understand. Actually, if you want to start a good argument between the Aussies and the Kiwis that’s a sure fire way to get one started. Even after all these years!

I watched a lot of cricket when I was kid (loved the sport) but one thing I never saw the New Zealand Cricket team do was The Haka. I didn’t get to see the Haka until a Rugby Union game between the Australian Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks (and yes that’s what they’re called). It was a sight I’ll never forget.

Here were these big burly rugby players dressed in black jerseys and black shorts. They were lined up in three or four rows. The Australian players were standing in a group. I watched and wondered what was going on. One player started yelling out, a few seconds later they started the Haka and I was mesmerized.

These players started chanting, slapping their thighs and arms, jumping in the air before sticking their tongues out, eyes wide open in a threatening manner towards the Australian players.

Once you’ve seen it, you’ll want to see it over and over again.

Here’s a demonstration of the Haka I first saw. This Haka is called Ka Mate. Ka Mate.

This particular one was used by the All Blacks until 2005. Over the years opponents have stood arm in arm and faced the players as they performed it. I know the Wallabies at one stage used to march toward them and another time, they completely ignored them and continued do their warm up.

In 2011 the All Blacks reached the Rugby World Cup final, they faced France. During that particular Haka performance, the French team formed an arrow. This Haka is the one they’ve performed since 2005. It is also a Haka that was written specifically for the All Blacks and is called Kapa O Pango. Check it out, it’s pretty cool.

Seriously, how can you not get chills and fired up after watching that? I love it. They’ve laid down the challenge and are daring their opposition to compete if they dare.

Over the years the opposition facing the All Blacks have stood tall and strong basically saying ‘We see your challenge and accept it. But we aren’t afraid, we’re ready to take you on and win’.

According to Wikipedia, here is the origin of the Haka:

According to Māori mythology, the sun god, Tama-nui-te-rā, had two wives, the Summer Maid, Hine-raumati, and the Winter Maid, Hine-takurua. Haka originated in the coming of Hine-raumati, whose presence on still, hot days was revealed in a quivering appearance in the air. This was the haka of Tāne-rore, the son of Hine-raumati and Tama-nui-te-rā.

The Haka is a traditional Maori dance and has a long rich history. It’s often been referred to as a War Dance. A dance done before going to battle. There are various forms of the Haka that are used for ceremonial purposes as well as performed at funerals.

After the last Rugby World Cup in 2015, a legend in New Zealand Rugby Union, Jonah Lomu, passed away suddenly. He was an amazing player and had to stop playing due to health concerns. At his funeral his former Rugby teammates performed the Haka. It’s a moving tribute to see the people he played with, players who respected him come together and perform the Haka.

Here is an another example of the Haka being performed at a funeral. Saying goodbye to a fellow friend and tribe member. It’s like they’re sending him good wishes on his journey to the other side.

More Polynesian sports teams, particularly those who play Rugby, perform their own Haka before they play, but the tradition was started with New Zealand’s All Blacks.

I’d only known a little bit about the Haka before, and what with rugby becoming more popular, and an Olympic sport, I really appreciate you telling us more about it. Thanks, Nicole! What about the rest of you? 

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