Kowai Tatou (Who are we?)

Zilvold Coaching & Training Blog experience
5 min read

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I’ve learned something new, and it’s something that can benefit you and your team! It focuses on leadership, overcoming challenges, connecting, and expressing who you are. This experience helps you gain confidence and enthusiasm for the things you do.

A Haka is a traditional war dance or a challenge, and it is used to show respect, impress, and connect with people. You can read more about the Haka in my blog, “The Haka is more than a little dance.”

Te Matatini

Since 2014, I have been involved with the Haka. It inspired me to learn more about this dance and the Māori culture. Every three years, there is the Te Matatini ki te Ao (Embrace the many faces of the world) Kapa Haka Festival. Nearly 40 Iwi’s (tribes) from New Zealand and Australia compete for the best paka Haka performance.

Fortunately, I was able to see them all in 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. There I met wonderful people who explained the traditions around the Haka. While watching the Haka, I listened to the meaning of the words with the help of a live translator.

See below the winning Iwi (Ngā Tūmanako) of the 2019 Te Matatini festival. I saw them in the pouring rain while sitting near the front of the stage.

Kowai Tatou

Recently, I learned a new Haka. “Kowai Tatou” is composed by Toroa, a Māori elder currently living in the Netherlands. He made it especially for “the Dutchies,” but I am sure it is for all people in Europe. He taught me and a group of people this Haka, the words, their meaning, and the action moves.

“Kowai Tatou” means “Who are we?” in Māori, and this Haka is different from the other Hakas I know and have seen and experienced.

What makes it so special is that it is a gift from Toroa to the people in Europe. It is probably not (yet) performed in New Zealand.

This haka is truly is a dance from the heart. It makes you aware of your identity and that of the group (tribe) you belong to. The Haka inspires participants to connect with each other in your tribe (your relatives, company, organization) and its purpose and cause. I believe that only by connecting with others can we have success and progress. Progress in reaching our (common) goals and aspirations.

This Haka cannot be done without connection with those around you, your environment, or yourself. If you connect with your environment, wonderful things can happen. I have been part of performances where bees (or spiders…) swarmed around the group. Once, there was a “Kowai Tatou” Haka near a lake. In it was a flock of Geese swimming, and they were watching us. As soon as we were done, they started to fly away, honking loud as if cheering us on. That was a very special moment for me.

The “Kowai Tatou” Haka can be an experience of who you can be. It helps you to shift from the victim consciousness to that one of a hero, of a person who takes charge and advances with confidence in their journey.

The Haka ends with the powerful words HAU MIE,  HUI E, TAI KI E. The meaning is: joining, gathering, and uniting. It’s an expression of a strong connection or bond between people in a group.

The experience

The key to a successful Haka (or any project) is courage and strong leadership. All participants can have the opportunity to experience this. The Haka is about giving and receiving, and that the success of the performance depends on what intention they have. That’s why respect is such an important factor. More on this can be found in my review of the book “Legacy”.

When I do this Haka, I feel energy, joy, connection, love, and enthusiasm. For me, enthusiasm is the expression of the spirit within. That is not strange since I live my purpose, my WHY, and that is to facilitate so others can elevate themselves to experience more joy and love for their actions.

I am very grateful to Toroa for teaching me to do this Haka correctly. It inspires others to have more energy, self-confidence, and enthusiasm in whatever they aspire to.  

Do you want to experience this Haka with your organization? I can teach you this special dance that is made for us non-Maori. Contact me for more information!

Who are you? What do you do to get in a flow and experience more joy and enthusiasm in the things you do? Let me know in the comment field below. The other readers of this article. and I are looking forward to reading from you!

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

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