The Power of the Haka

I only recently discovered Haka a few days ago after my husband went on a 23 hour video posting spree on FaceBook.

Ah. What is this thing he keeps posting? Why is he flooding my wall with these useless updates?!?

I clicked on a link and instantly found myself mesmerized. For the next three hours, I found myself on YouTube independently clicking through Haka demonstrations as well. It’s easy to get caught up in the raw, visceral emotion of the Haka.

Haka was introduced to popular culture by the All Blacks, New Zealand’s rugby team. They typically perform Ka Mate at the line up. Haka is a traditional ancestral war cry, dance or challenge from the Māori people of New Zealand. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment.

Author Alan Armstrong defined the Haka in this way:

“The haka is a composition played by many instruments. Hands, feet, legs, body, voice, tongue, and eyes all play their part in blending together to convey in their fullness the challenge, welcome, exultation, defiance or contempt of the words. It is disciplined, yet emotional. More than any other aspect of Maori culture, this complex dance is an expression of the passion, vigour and identity of the race. It is at its best, truly, a message of the soul expressed by words and posture.”

Thanks to some burly men in tight black shirts and shorts – and the rich history of the Haka…of course – I find that I am an unabashed fan of the art and have made it my business to incorporate it into any aspect of my daily life, whether it seems rational or not.

Haka is meant to express emotion, and in the rugby world specifically to intimidate the opponent. This in particular appeals to me. One of my biggest opponents is laundry. I have created a refrain that is sure to scare the socks off my ever growing pile of musty cottons:

  AHHHH!!!! Why won’t you go away?!?
I have washed! I have washed!
And yet you refuse to remain clean!
I will burn you! I will burn you!
You this ever growing pile of laundry!!!
I will BURN you!!!

Fearsome, ain’t it?

How about this Haka for porcelain warfare?


This is green shrapnel! This is brown shrapnel!
You are no match for my mighty brush!
I will scrub you! I will scrub you!
Oh sh*t! What is this on the edge of the seat?
Will I be defeated? I live, I live, I think I’m scared!  AHHHHHH!!!!!

My children are not to be spared from the battle cry and dance of Haka. In truth, they are often the aggressors in any conflict we might find ourselves in, and they are a frightful foe.

 You this small boy! You this small girl!
I’m your mother! Why trouble me?
I just gave you milk but you say you want more?
Leave my shirt! Leave my shirt!
OOOOOH AHHH! Don’t you pull me!
I live! I live! I die! I die!
Ei. I beg. Come away from the stove. Fire go burn you.
Ajeish. Okay. You win.

If you find yourself in a stressful situation, I strongly recommend employing the use of Haka to overcome it. There is wisdom in ancient cultures, and we would all do well not to let them die with the passing of time.

“But Malaka, when will I ever have the occasion to force someone into submission with the beating of  my chest and slapping of my thighs?” you ask.  The bedroom comes to mind, for one. Had I known about Haka when we got married, I would have performed it for my husband on our wedding night.


Stop laughing.