Haka

 


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Haka

 

Ka mate             Ka mate

It is death            It is death

 

Ka ora             Ka ora

It is life It is life

 

Ka mate             Ka mate

It is death            It is death

 

Ka ora             Ka ora

It is life It is life

 

Tenei Te Tangata Puhuruhuru

This is the hairy man

 

Nana i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra

Who caused the sun to shine again for me

 

Upane             Upane

Up the ladder            Up the ladder

 

Upane            Kaupane

Up to the top

 

Whiti te ra

The sun shines!

The haka is a war dance. The words are chanted loudly (shouted) in a menacing way accompanied by arm actions and foot stamping. A haka was traditionally performed before charging into battle.

The Maori pronunciation is basically one vowel per syllable, with the vowels having the European rather than English sound. The `wh' is aspirated almost like an `f' (f is good enough for most people).

As for what it all means, about 140 years ago, a particularly notorious warlike chief named Te Rauparaha of the Ngati Toa tribe (based just North of present day Wellington), was being chased by his enemies. He hid in a kumara pit (the local sweet potato, only much better) and waited in the dark for his pursuers to find him. He heard sounds above and thought he was done for when the top of the pit was opened up and sunshine flooded in. He was blinded and struggled to see those about to slay him, when his sight cleared and he instead saw the hairy legs of the local chief (reputed to have been exceptionally hirsute) who had hid him. Te Rauparaha is said to have jumped from the pit and performed this haka on the spot, so happy was he to have escaped. Undoubtedly, he also had in his mind to do a little pursuing of his own --- Te Rauparaha being that way inclined was he.

 

 



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Last updated: February 25, 2007.