The Haka

The Haka


Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora! I die! I die! I live! I live!
Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora! I die! I die! I live! I live!
Tenei te tangata puhuru huru This is the hairy man
Nana nei i tiki mai Who fetched the Sun
Whakawhiti te ra And caused it to shine again
A upa … ne! ka upa … ne! One upward step! Another upward step!
A upane kaupane whiti te ra! An upward step, another… the Sun shines!!
Hi !!!  


These fierce words can be heard today at the beginning of every New Zealand All Blacks Rugby match. This chant alone strikes fear into the opposing team. This is the Maori war chant called the Haka. Throughout our studies we have seen music in a number of different functions. The function of the Haka is to recount the story of the Maori history and challenge to their opponents.

The Haka originated when a Maori king was seeking aid from his allies and a war party of his enemies started to chase him down. He was able to find shelter from a begrudging neighboring king. The Maori king hid in a pit until his enemies had passed. This was the chant he came up with while he was in hiding. When he was finally able to come out of hiding he performed it for his host. From then on the Haka was performed by the Maori people to depict their history and contest their enemies.

In the beginning of the chant the Maori King is deliberating if he will be found and killed by his enemies. The next few lines are in reverence to the king who saved his life. He speaks to his rising from hiding as the return of the sun. He digs himself out of the hole he is hiding in one step at a time. Finally when he gets free the sun shines down on him.

When the Haka is performed on the rugby pitch it begins with the captain calling out orders and the players responding in antiphony. After this initial phase the players join together in heterophonic chanting of the Haka. The vocals are accompanied by percussion instrumentation of stomping and slapping. The slaps and stomps are incorporated in a dance. This adds to the total effect of the piece making it menacing to their adversaries.

This is how the All Blacks instill fear in their opponents before every match and challenge the courage of their opponents. In a few instances the other team will perform a response to the Haka.

This is an example of the Tongan Sipi Tau. They respond to the All Blacks’ Haka with a war chant of their own. It is similar in nature with like instrumentation and timbre. This is also a war dance that was originally preformed to proclaim the greatness of the Tongan warriors. Much like the Haka it was adapted and is now used on the rugby pitch for intimidation purposes.

This particular Haka can only be performed by men; “It is considered very disrespectful for women to perform this version of the Haka, they must do their own Haka instead” said Sarah Butler. Sarah is an international student from New Zealand studying here at Longwood University. She explained to me how the Haka has to be treated with respect and it is an important Maori Tradition. This is an example of the female version of the Haka: It is similar to the men’s Haka in instrumentation. However the tempo of the men’s Haka is faster. The women’s Haka also has much more antiphony throughout unlike the men’s Haka.

The Haka depicts a sacred history of the Maori king and it is a distinct part of the New Zealand culture and traditions. The All Blacks use of the Haka is to pay reverence to their ancestors and strike fear into the hearts of their competitors. They preform this tradition to preserve their heritage.


Butler, Sarah. “The Haka.” Personal interview. 11 Nov. 2012.

Hosted, Alice. “New Zealand All Blacks Rugby and the Haka.” Active Adventures New Zealand. Active Adventures, Apr. 2001. Web. 12 Nov. 2012.

The Haka, Its Meaning and Origin.” Spiritual and Ancestral Home of Tainui., 2012. Web. 10 Nov. 2012.

Wait, Paul. “New Zealand Haka.” Haka. N.p., June 2000. Web. 14 Nov. 2012.








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Music in Culture

The misuse of cultural music is very prevalent throughout the world, this is mostly because the majority of people don’t even realize when they are misusing or offending people from the culture of the music they are listening to. Music from certain areas or cultures can actually tell the story of the people in that area; this is a great way to gain insight on certain cultures and what their beliefs and traditions might be. The songs these cultures sing become tradition and prove to be very sacred and special, therefore when outsiders begin to misuse the music it becomes very offensive to the native people.

One common pitfall is a song being taken out of context. This could result in the native people being offended or the culture that it is being shared in could be offended. One example is of the Navajo Yeibichai, this song is a ceremonial piece and many believe it should not be shared on public media. It has aroused much discussion on YouTube over the disrespectful nature it is being used. Some musicians with no Navajo ties are trying to cover this music and these are the songs getting the most disgruntled comments. This is an example of a disrespectful cover on YouTube.

Another danger with taking music out of its original culture is that if the music is poorly represented it could cause animosity among the original culture. This was the case over much of the music in Disney movies like Aladdin and Lion King. The original lyrics of the opening song in Aladdin were very offensive and were protested by The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. After these issues about the Aladdin music were raised the Disney writers had to take them into consideration when making other Disney movies.  While making the movie Pocahontas, Disney writers actually consulted real Powhatan musicians to verify the music used in the movie was authentic and would not be offensive to the people of the Powhatan tribe.

The benefits for an artist to be able to sell music not just domestically but globally as well are tremendous. This could even be just producing music from your culture in order to set the record straight and portray a more accurate representation of your culture that was not previously depicted. Selling music on a medium such as iTunes could be a way to raise money for a struggling artist in need of financial support. Also, by selling music to other people you are, in a sense, selling your culture as well.  When more people buy and listen to music from other cultures it begins to raise awareness to the outside world about these cultures and what they stand for.  Recognition is a crucial part in establishing yourself in the music world.  These are just a few of the benefits that an artist could get by selling their music across cultural boundaries.

Thus it is clear that you should be conscious of your cultural surroundings when sharing music across cultures. Also you should support artist from other cultures to become a more culturally developed music connoisseur.


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importance of music

Some say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That is the same with music. Music is deemed beautiful on an individual basis. Everyone in the world has a different opinion of the way music sounds and what is pleasing to them. Not only does it sound different to everyone but also it evokes different emotions to each listener. Music is whatever the listener wants it to be. What might sound like loud arbitrary banging to me could sound like a beautiful melody to someone else. Music is also an outlet for emotions to many people. The artist can convey their emotions through their music and that makes the music more relatable to the listener. The listener may also choose what music to listen to depending on their mood and the emotions they are feeling or want to feel. This is what makes people listen to music. This is why each culture has music. The music can also add incite on the culture where it was produced. The music itself speaks wonders to the happenings of the culture. This is what makes the study of music so interesting. In conclusion music is different to each person but what is common is music’s importance.

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