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The Haka is the unofficial national anthem of New Zealand and is performed by at Rugby matches, basketball, ice hockey, weddings and funerals. Attempts to introduce at football matches were banned on the grounds that it would incite even more violence amongst football fans than normal.
There are many versions of the haka but all look the same to anyone who isn't a Maori or lives in New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga or Fiji. Each country has their own version and their own name to the dance of men and women squatting in a formation and sticking their tongues out and jerking their arms and legs at the same time. Critics call it it macho epilepsy as the intention is loosen the bowels of the opposition team.
New Zealand may now look a peaceful place but the British colonisers in the early 19th century fought a series of wars against the native Maori peoples. The British won but had been much impressed by the Maori chanting and gesturing as they performed the haka - before loosening off a volley to reduce their opponents to dog meat. The more the Maori did the haka, the more the British thought it was their job to bring civilisation and afternoon tea there.
Roll on a few decades and now the British settlers started to develop their own 'Kiwi' nationalism. They wanted to be different from the British and also not to be mistaken for Australians either but New Zealand needed its own identity. They adopted the game of Rugby was it was a sport for big beefy men and would distract the farmers from playing with the sheep instead. All they needed was their own 'song'. Then they remembered the Maori war dance.
In 1905 a team of New Zealand rugby players toured Britain. Angry at being mistaken for Australians again, the team choose their own anthem. Dressed in black as it made them look less grotesque in their strips, the team startled a Welsh rugby team by performing a Haka known as the Ka Mate (We Aint Bloody Aussies Mate).
|Leader:||Ringa pakia!||Slap your hands against your bum!|
|Uma tiraha!||Puff out the chest until your nipples stand erect.|
|Turi whatia!||Bend your knees, let out a fart!|
|Hope whai ake!||Swing your hip like a pole dancer!|
|Waewae takahia kia kino!||Stomp the feet as if you're killing bugs.|
|Leader:||Ka mate, ka mate||I'll diet, I'll diet,|
|Team:||Ka ora' Ka ora'||Orange juice, Orange juice.|
|Leader:||Ka mate, ka mate||I'll diet, I'll diet|
|Team:||Ka ora Ka ora "||Orange juice, Orange juice.|
|All:||Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru||This is a hairy man who needs a hairy woman.|
|Nāna i tiki mai whakawhiti te rā||Who wants to visit the place the sun don't shine.|
|A Upane! Ka Upane!||My bladder's bursting, My bladder's bursting.|
|Upane Kaupane"||Out it comes|
|Whiti te rā,!||Let the golden rain fall.|
|Hī!||Now wash your hands.|
Haka in Action
Ever since it was first seen, the New Zealand rugby team have performed their dance at every international game and tournament. New Zealanders are now so used to this chant/dance number that it has even featured in the Auckland Techno-Sporting Tunes chart for the last 20 years. The country also believes now that not to perform the haka is bad luck.
For those teams who don't have their own rousing methods of inspiring their players there have been complaints about how much time a haka takes up. When two countries have a haka - it means you have to watch twice as long. It has been suggested that other countries could even this up with their own little number. In England it has been suggested a vigorous Morris Dance could be performed on the pitch. The Welsh could sing Men of Harlech or Tom Jone's It's Not Unusual whilst the Irish have a variety of jigs they could look into. In the end most other countries try the 'stare down' or 'in your face' approach when faced with a New Zealand side.
The haka is just for a rugby field (whether Rugby Union or Rugby League). New Zealand sporting teams, both men and women, have tried to perform their haka if allowed to. It has become part of New Zealand culture as much as Hobbits and Suicide are today.
Legend has it that the first man to climb Mount Everest Sir Edmund Hillary performed the Haka 29,000 feet up to prevent Tenzing Norgay (Sherpa Tenzing} from getting ahead of his fellow climber. However Hillary had forgot to pack a New Zealand flag and had to make do with the Union Jack instead (which is why the British claimed 'they' had climbed the mountain instead.
Haka Losing its Power?
Some New Zealanders now say the Haka has lost it's power to scare people and should perhaps be 'retired'. This has upset some people who identify the haka as their essence of Kiwiness that makes them different in a country that is so far away from anyone else. They think it is also a good reason why people come to the country in the first place and would wish a version of it be used when the national anthem is sung.
Others who are more politically correct say the Haka is too aggressive and should be about loving and caring for one's fellow man and all the cuddily animals. This has been strongly opposed by the New Zealand tourist authorities. They say that if tourists haven't seen a traditional Maori haka, complain and ask for their money back. So it looks like the haka is going to stay.