The 3 Phases of a Haka

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The Haka is a traditional Māori power dance from New Zealand. There are different types of Hakas performed during different occasions. I learned four Hakas from a Māori elder and have been dancing them regularly since 2014. The Haka is very special to the Māori, and to master the dance, you go through different phases or stages. According to the Māori elder, it is like climbing a ladder: one step at a time.
In this article, I describe the importance of the three phases: Learning, experiencing, and processing the Haka.

To Learn

There are Hakas for women, for men, and mixed groups. I learned Taparahi Haka. These are Hakas to enthuse, support each other, and inspire people to show their best.

Some Hakas last several minutes, and other Hakas can last more than fifteen minutes. Each Haka tells a story that you must learn. The Haka consists of movements or ‘action moves’ (choreography) and an accompanying text in Māori.

Usually, you start by learning the lyrics. The correct pronunciation in Māori is then essential. Of course, it is important to know what you are saying. Therefore, the meaning of the words and sentences is explained.

The action moves reinforce the words. A Haka involves slapping the legs or chest, stamping on the ground, and trembling hands. It is an expressive dance in which the face plays an important role. You impress by showing the Pukana, where men show their tongues and women make their eyes very big.

It is important to understand the meaning of the different moves. The wiri wiri, for example, is the trembling of the hands. Both men and women do this, mimicking the water’s movement or the air’s vibration on hot days. It gives energy, confidence, and enthusiasm to do a Haka.

Repetition is the key to mastering a Haka. This is where most of the time is spent.

To Experience

During a Haka, you express pride and passion. It would be best if you understand the meaning of the words and the movements. The Māori elder who taught me the Haka demands perfection. You repeat the Haka many times until it reaches that perfection. You give everything. Then you experience the Haka, the energy, the joy, and the love. It is so strong that you can keep doing the Haka without needing a break. The energy (love) comes from the sky to the ground and back to the sky. It’s an endless process.

You experience a connection with the people around you when you dance the Haka correctly. They help you, and you help them by making contact. You can also connect with people who are not present at the time. This could be colleagues, friends, relatives or loved ones. They are always connected to you and can help you if you ask. And not just while dancing the Haka. You are never alone.

If you don’t feel or experience the Haka, you’re still too much in your head. Then, it’s time to ground and come into the present.

Before and during a Haka, alcohol and mind-altering drugs are never taken. That clouds the experience of the Haka.

To Process

After doing a Haka, people, and groups always react differently.

Sometimes, people are silent. Nothing is said. They sit down, lie down, or walk away in silence. People go through an individual process of the Haka experience. They can keep the experience to themselves or share it. Then, emotions can come up. A man told me once with tears in his eyes that he now understood why his favorite uncle had moved to New Zealand.

At other times, people continue with the Haka. They don’t know when to stop, and you can still hear them in the distance. They are very excited about it.

Often, I see people hugging each other and laughing. It’s special to see that real connection.

And sometimes, I see that people are dissatisfied. They ask questions and argue. They like to be heard. That is allowed, but I think those people are still too much in their heads. That is a pity because then they would not have felt the Haka.

Whatever process people go through, everything is right, and nothing is wrong. The best thing is when people take the experience of the Haka into their daily lives to become aware of themselves, connect with others, and show leadership.

Power Dance

The Haka is from the Māori, but anyone can perform a power dance. Other cultures have their power dance. It is a celebration of identity. Examples are the Siva tau from Samoa, the Kailao from Tonga, and the Hopak from Ukraine. The Hakas I learned have also been translated into Dutch, French, and German. When I do the Haka in my own language, an extra dimension is added; it is even more real, powerful, and authentic. Our ancestors also had their own power dance to impress, generate self-confidence, and experience connection.

The Haka can be an inspiration for your own power dance. They contain the lyrics your group stands for and wants to go to. It can express your story, purpose, identity, or WHY. I can help you develop your power dance. Contact me to get to know me.

What does your power dance look like? What would be elements of your identity for your power dance? Let me know in the comment field below. The other readers of this article and I look forward to reading from you!

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Have you seen an error in this article? My apologies. Let me know! I am grateful!

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