What is the Haka? | Features | MN2S Talent

Get to Know the Traditional War Dance Performed by Rugby Players Globally

The haka is a dance that we probably associate most strongly with rugby in this country – and particularly with the New Zealand rugby team, the All Blacks. It’s often performed before the team takes to the pitch, but what is the haka, where did it come from and why is it performed at rugby matches?

What is a haka?

the all blacks rugby team the haka dance

The haka is a traditional war dance performed by the New Zealand Maori and traditionally, warriors would have done the haka before they went into combat. The dance was for them to proclaim their strength and prowess in order to intimidate their opposition and is a style of dance called a posture dance. This involves foot stamping movements and rhythmic, shouted accompaniments, making it a very impressive ritual to observe.

How is it used now?

The haka has now taken on a different role; as Maori are rarely going to war any longer, the haka has instead become a celebratory affair in many contexts. A haka is often performed to welcome honoured guests or mark an achievement, and what was once a distinctly male affair is now a dance performed by men, women and children alike.

Powerful haka have been composed to mark several specific events, and a video which shows firefighters from New Zealand marking the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with a haka has been viewed by millions of people around the world.

Why is it performed at rugby matches?

The haka is performed at All Blacks rugby matches for the same reasons that it was performed before a battle – to intimidate opponents. It’s also something of a ceremonial act in modern New Zealand, and a way of celebrating the indigenous Maori people and their traditions.

Find out more about rugby traditions with our celebrity talent

If you’re interested in finding out more about the traditions and rituals of rugby, why not book one of the rugby players on our books? We have former international players from all over the world who have plenty of fascinating anecdotes and interesting insights about one of the UK’s most popular sports.

To find out more about booking a rugby player like former All Blacks captain Wayne Shelford for your event, get in touch today to speak to one of our friendly agents.

Related articles:

Rugby vs football: which players make the best speakers for corporate events?
Jonathan Thomas: Rugby hero
Iain Balshaw: Rugby Royalty

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