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Haka – the traditional Maori dance

haka1All Blacks (the New Zealand National Rugby team) perform haka before each game and we all have seen haka on TV. Let’s take a look at this traditional Maori dance and find out where you can experience haka in New Zealand.

What is haka?

Haka is a traditional Maori dance from New Zealand. Haka are not just war dances. They are performed for amusement, to welcome guests or to acknowledge great occasions. Today, haka is part of the official welcome ceremonies for distinguished guests. It’s also performed by the All Black before each game.

Who performs haka?

Haka are mostly performed by men, which lead to the misconception that only men perform haka. In reality, haka are performed by women or mixed groups as well. Some haka are performed predominantly by women, such as “Ka Panapana”.

Types of haka

The types of hanka include Ka Mate, whakatu waewae, ngeri, manawa wera, tutu ngarahu and peruperu.

Ka Mate is the most well known type of haka and is a ceremonial dance. This is the haka performed by the All Blacks.

In older times, peruperu – characterized by leaps during which the legs are pressed under the body – was performed before the battle, to invoke the god of war and to scare the enemy. Ngeri is performed without weapons and its purpose was to motivate the worries psychologically.

Manawa wera was generally associated with funerals and death, no weapons were involved and the movements had little choreography.

Where to see Maori haka performed

Te Puia

Located in Rotorua, Te Puia is a Maori arts and culture performance hall. Each day at 12:15 PM haka is performed. Other traditional dances are also performed during the day or evening. Tickets cost NZ$25 for an adult and NZ$11 for a child.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

New Zealand’s most historic site, also known as “Birthplace of the Nation”, is the place where you’ll find a fully carved Maori meeting house. Here you’ll also see the world’s largest ceremonial waka (canoe).

From mid-October to end of April, performances are held at 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM and 2:30 PM each day. During the winter the hours generally change. Tickets cost NZ$12 for an adult and NZ$6 for a child.