The Haka is More than a Little Dance

Zilvold Coaching & Training Haka
8 min read

Summary: In this article I explain the power of a Haka workshop and how the Haka can be used as an instrument for more leadership, connection or self-confidence to experience and share more happiness.

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For several years, I have been giving Haka workshops throughout the Netherlands and Belgium. I come to company events, family celebrations, bachelor parties, conferences for accountants, meetings of architects and IT companies.

The Haka is a tribal war dance of the Maori in New Zealand and this dance is done on various occasions such as weddings, funerals and to welcome visitors. It is an expression of passion, power and identity where the body, voice, hands, feet, tongue and eyes are used.

Many participants of the workshop think they are going to learn a little dance. The Haka is much more than a little dance. It is about connecting, stepping out of your comfort zone, being in the here and now, about energy and about leadership. In this article, I will tell you more about this.


The many workshops that I gave,  are all unique. This is of course due to the participants themselves, but sometimes also due to the location. I always ask the client what he/she wants to achieve with a Haka workshop. Sometimes it has to be a refresher during a long meeting, sometimes it’s the kick-off of an event and sometimes it’s just a party. My intention and the intention of the group are always different. And you can see that in the result. Often it is surprisingly different than I (or my client) had in mind. This is because I respond to the needs of the group as they present themselves at that time.


Earlier this year I gave a Haka workshop for a handball team. They had to play the final for the national championships the next day. The Haka had to give them self-confidence and impress the opponents.

I am convinced that this will not work by simply performing a ‘little dance’. So, I asked the participants how it would feel to win and to hold the champions cup. Answers were: Fantastic, happy, strong and someone said that it felt like everyone gave each other a hug.

Then I asked the participants to hold on to this feeling while doing the Haka. This was the basis of their positive mindset for winning. The result was so strong, so intense and so energetic. What happened next, you can see for yourself in the video below in which the ladies perform their victory dance.


The Haka also creates connection. Connection between colleagues, friends or family members. But also outside of that! A part of the Haka Workshop can be a “battle”. Two groups face each other and challenge each other in a creative and sporty attitude. The battle is meant to greet the other party and to show respect.

This also happened during a Haka workshop in a conference center. My group was instructed to come up with a Haka and to perform it during a battle. They practiced in the corridor of the conference center. At one point, the door of another room opened, and another party came out. I thought we were making too much noise and that they were going to complain. Nothing less was true. The other men and women got in line and began to perform their own Haka. This created a special connection between this party and my group!

Express your WHY

In creating their own Haka I encourage the participants to search for their own words instead of the words of the Kamate Haka which they learn from me. I often see people getting stuck when they ask me which words to use. I then ask what the group stands for and what mission or vision they have.

Surprisingly they often do not know that, and they do not get much further than: “Staying ahead of the competition!” Or “Making money”. These are things that enable you to achieve a goal. I ask them why they do what they do and what they believe in.

I am convinced that a Haka can be even stronger if it represents the essence or purpose (the why) of a group. Just look at the handball ladies. For more information about how you as a group can find why, read this article.

Body language and leadership

Last week I was at an engineering company in Delft. The Haka was the kick-off of a leadership training. Because I knew what the group was going to do, I adapted the workshop and focused more on leadership.

For the Maori, strong leadership and courage are important attributes of a leader. In addition, convincing body language is essential. A group trusts you if you dare to show strong body language. This does not mean that you do a Haka but that you show courage and take the initiative to tackle a conflict or to give the group clear tasks. Then a group feels safe and there is calmness. Just look at how well-known leaders, speakers or artists do this. They show what they mean. They are congruent with what they say. It is important to be in contact with yourself and to be in the here and now. That is an important aspect of the Haka.

Zilvold Traing & Coaching Haka

I invited several participants to lead the group and lead the dance. After each round, they talked about how the leadership came over to the group. Important conclusions were that a leader must behave like a leader and that a leader must be present within a group. That is different from the comfort zone in which the participants were before.

Why do I give Haka workshops?

I always enjoy performing the Haka with great pleasure and passion. I get a lot of energy to let the participants experience the power of the Haka. The Haka fits very well with my WHY. I facilitate a workshop in which people grow, connect, get more self-confidence and become aware of their (hidden) potential. As a result, they contribute to the happiness and joy of living in this world by experiencing and sharing it.


I connect with the group to find out what the needs are. Should it be a party? Then it will be a party. But usually the intended goal will be surpassed because the participants will be in their power, gain more self-confidence or become more aware of leadership and how important it is to be congruent. And that’s more than doing a little dance.

I want the participants to not only experience an inspiring workshop, but I also want them to know in the weeks or years after the workshop what they need to do to connect, show leadership, have more confidence or experience more happiness in life. The Haka has become an instrument to reach these goals.

Want to experience a Haka Workshop for yourself?

Do you and your organization want to experience the power of a unique Haka Workshop as well? Click here for more information and a FREE quotation!

How do you get more self-confidence and more energy? Let me know in the comment box below. I, and other readers of this article look forward 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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