New Zealand’s Haka is a traditional dance of power and intimidation. Learn more about the history and meaning.
A Haka, at heart, is a dance of war. It is a battle cry that combines strong, strategic posturing, stomping, and loud chanting, and when done well, it is remarkably beautiful.
The type of dance considered to be Haka, which you probably won’t see on Dancing with the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance, is not just a dance to show strength and ability; it is a dance of unification. The dances are meant to unite those going into battle, not unlike similar rituals that athletes perform just before a competition or a sports team chants just before a game.
In fact, the New Zealand rugby team is known for their game-starting moves:
Created by New Zealand’s Māori culture as an act of intimidation, the dance is no longer just a dance of battle; it is also used as a dance of welcome and a dance of respect.
New Zealand’s All Blacks, the national rugby team, perform a haka to welcome Beyoncé before she performed:
In a ceremony to honor their respected teacher, who had recently died, the entire student body of a New Zealand school performed a traditional Haka:
A Haka isn’t a specific dance but rather a type of dance that encompasses many categories and meanings. Certain types of Hakas are meant to frighten enemies, while others are meant to celebrate life. A Haka is a dance of intimidation, a dance of celebration, and a dance of respect. It is a dance of great power and meaning. It is a dance that you should know about.