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The first hakas were created and performed by Maori tribes as a war dance. Hakas originally were performed on the battlefields to scare opponents, but were also used for groups coming together in peace. A haka is a display of pride, strength and unity and is an avenue for Maori people to express and showcase their heritage and cultural identity through song and dance.
Here we have rounded up the best places to see and experience the Haka in New Zealand.
Whakarewarewa the Living Maori Village - Rotorua
Rotorua is well known for being one of the best places in New Zealand to experience Maori Culture. Whakarewarewa, The Living Māori Village is an authentic Maori cultural experience that combines culture and geothermal activity, and also includes an awe-inspiring haka. Visitors can join an hourly guided tour the living Maori village, take the walking trails through the geothermal features, indulge in a traditional hangi meal and enjoy the Maori cultural performances from the Kapa Haka Group – Te Pakira.
Te Matatini Festival
Te Matatini is a significant cultural festival and the pinnacle event for Māori performing arts. This festival is held every two years and is well worth the wait! The festival showcases of the best Kapa Haka groups from New Zealand and Australia who compose, rehearse and organise original performances for this event. Over three days, 40 groups compete fiercely to be crowned the overall champions of the Te Matatini Festival.
While the Haka traditionally was performed as a war dance, today the haka also constitutes an integral part of formal or official welcome ceremonies for distinguished visitors or foreign dignitaries, serving to impart a sense of the importance of the occasion. It is also performed in the military and police force communities to honour fallen comrades. Haka performances are also seen at ANZAC Day memorial services as a mark of respect.
All Blacks Rugby Game
Arguably the most well-known haka performances involve the All Blacks rugby Haka, which takes place prior to or following international rugby matches. Initially interpreted as a challenge to the other team, it is now also considered a performance for the crowd as pre-match entertainment. This is often the first Haka seen by New Zealanders and the “Ka mate” haka is the original All Blacks haka taught in schools and to young rugby players.
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