The Maori Haka
The New Zealand Maori haka is an dramatic dance, first used as a form of distraction.  The words spoken during the dance are important but should not be taken out of context, nor without taking note of which tribe is using it.  So it can be difficultto just look at the words alone and try to translate the words to English. 
Often the haka is seen as a war dance, but that is not always so.  As mentioned above, it can be used to distract the viewer, as a welcome, a challenge, or a show of defiance.  It may also be used to create a high level of excitement in the performer,as seen when the All Blacks rugby team performs the haka.
There are two main types of haka - haka taparahi, performed without weapons, and haka peruperu, with weapons.    The latter, not surprisingly, are war hakas.
The All Blacks "New" 2005 Rugby Haka
On 27 August 2005, the All Blacks rugby team performed a new haka at Carisbrook in Dunedin, against the Springboks rugby team.  This new haka does not replace the traditional Ka Mate haka ( a traditional haka composed in the early nineteenth century by TeRauparaha,a famous Ngati Toa chief), but will be used by the team when and if they find it appropriate. 
The new haka, called Kapa o Pango (Team in Black) came about because the All Blacks rugby team felt they wanted a haka that represented who they were and where they were from.  The team is multicultural, and some of the actions have a Polynesianinfluence. 
The haka was composed by Derek Lardelli, from Ngati Porou.  He has asked that people take particular note of the throat-cutting gesture at the end of the haka, performed particularly dramatically by halfback Piri Weepu.  The gesture symbolises theintensity of first-class rugby and the consequences of defeat.
Here are the words and translation:
Kapa o pango kia whakawhenua au i ahau!
Let me become one with the land
Hi aue, hi!
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, hi!

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 All Blacks Ka Mate! Haka
The most famous Maori haka is the Ka mate! Haka, composed in the early nineteenth century by Te Rauparaha, chief of tribe Ngati Toa.  The words relate to a moment in time, when Te Rauparaha is climbing out of a kumara pit, where he was in hiding frompursuing warriors. 
Here it is with English translation:
A ka mate! Ka mate!
'Tis death! 'Tis death!
Ka ora! Ka ora!
'Tis life! 'Tis life!
Ka mate! Ka mate!
'Tis death! 'Tis death!
Ka ora! Ka ora!
'Tis life! 'Tis life!
Tenei te tangata pohuruhuru
Behold! There stands the hairy man
Nana nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra!
Who will cause the sun to shine!
A hupane! A kaupane!
One step upwards, another step upwards!
A hupane! A kaupane!
One step upwards, another step upwards!
Whiti te ra!
The sun shines!
If you would like to learn much more about the origins and meaning of the Haka, we have a great book available here, called Haka A Living Tradition.  Click here to go to the Haka book .
And if you would like a Maori Haka T-shirt, click here.
Here is a great DVD on how to perform the Maori Haka.

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