The haka is a ceremonial dance or challenge in Māori culture. It is performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment. Although commonly associated with the traditional battle preparations of male warriors, haka have long been performed by both men and women, and several varieties of the haka fulfill social functions within Māori culture. Haka are performed to welcome distinguished guests, or to acknowledge great achievements, occasions or funerals. The main Māori performing arts competition, Te Matatini, takes place every two years.
New Zealand sports teams’ practice of performing a haka before their international matches has made the haka more widely known around the world. This tradition began with the 1888–89 New Zealand Native football team tour and has been carried on by the New Zealand All Blacks rugby union team since 1905. This is considered by some Māori to be a form of cultural appropriation.
ORIGINS: According to Tīmoti Kāretu, the haka has been “erroneously defined by generations of uninformed as ‘war dances'”, whereas Māori mythology places haka as the dance “about the celebration of life”. According to its creation story, the sun god, Tama-nui-te-rā, had two wives, the Summer Maid, Hine-raumati, and the Winter Maid, Hine-takurua. Haka originated in the coming of Hine-raumati, whose presence on still, hot days was revealed in a quivering appearance in the air. This was the haka of Tāne-rore, the son of Hine-raumati and Tama-nui-te-rā.
Jackson and Hokowhitu state, “haka is the generic name for all types of dance or ceremonial performance that involve movement.” The various types of haka include whakatū waewae, tūtū ngārahu and peruperu. The tūtū ngārahu involves jumping from side to side, while in the whakatū waewae no jumping occurs. Another kind of haka performed without weapons is the ngeri, the purpose of which was to motivate a warrior psychologically. The movements are very free, and each performer is expected to be expressive of their feelings. Manawa wera haka were generally associated with funerals or other occasions involving death. Like the ngeri they were performed without weapons, and there was little or no choreographed movement.
War haka (peruperu) were originally performed by warriors before a battle, proclaiming their strength and prowess in order to intimidate the opposition. Various actions are employed in the course of a performance, including facial contortions such as showing the whites of the eyes (pūkana), and poking out the tongue (whetero, performed by men only), and a wide variety of vigorous body actions such as slapping the hands against the body and stomping of the feet. As well as chanted words, a variety of cries and grunts are used. Haka may be understood as a kind of symphony in which the different parts of the body represent many instruments. The hands, arms, legs, feet, voice, eyes, tongue and the body as a whole combine to express courage, annoyance, joy or other feelings relevant to the purpose of the occasion.[Wikipedia]