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Kia Ora From New Zealand
Ka Mate - The All Blacks Haka
By Audrey Goh

Perhaps the most striking Haka performance these days is the one by the All Blacks, the famous New Zealand Rugby Team. Before the actual performance, the leader of the haka will utter a few refrains such as the one below. Its purpose is to remind the performers to conduct themselves in a proper manner when presenting the haka. The haka should be shouted out in a ferocious and staccato manner, with the power and force required in instilling strength and determination.

Ringa pakia
Uma tiraha
Turi whatia
Hope whai ake
Waewae takahia kia kino

Slap the hands against the thighs
Puff out the chest
Bend the knees
Let the hip follow
Stamp the feet as hard as you can!

Of course, the haka would not be a haka if you miss several essentials. It is very important to do the pukana (dilating of the eyes), whereto (protruding of the tongue performed by men only), ngangahu (similar to pukana, performed by both sexes), and potete (the closing of the eyes at different points in the dance, performed by the women only). These expressions will further emphasize the meaning of the words. An important aspect is to remember that the haka is not uniformly enacted with all the participants acting in time. Instead, the best haka involves a good deal of spontaneity and creativity as the performers interpret the words themselves.

With time, the All Blacks rendition of the Ka Mate has undergone several changes. It is more impressive now, probably to suit the game of rugby. The All Blacks used the haka in their first overseas tour in 1905 when they were known as the “Originals”. However, with that match, they became known as the “All Blacks. The name change in addition to the haka created two of the most distinctive features for the New Zealand team. From then on, the haka became a permanent element for the All Blacks.

The words of Ka Mate, "The Haka" does not have direct relevance to rugby. The 'loose' translation of the haka challenge for the All Blacks could be written down as:

"We are the All Blacks, of the New Zealand people.
Here we are to face you.
We will do you the honor of playing to the limits
that our hearts and sinews impose upon us.
We will be very hard to beat.
Whiti te ra! Hi!”

I highly recommend that you seek out the Maori culture if you ever visit New Zealand. In Auckland, Haka performances can be found at the museum in Domain. The Information Center would have the times of the performances. The Haka would give you the time of your life, sending shivers down your spine for the force is indeed great.

For more information, look up the Haka of the All Blacks.

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