I got an e-mail from a reader called Neal in Canada, who wrote a fascinating insight into the origin of the New Zealand haka. I’m posting this with his permission.
My reason for writing is to ask that somebody (anybody) highlight the meaning of the NZ haka. I read about this while visiting the country years ago, and I’m continually amazed that nobody slags them about it. Basically its a song written by a guy who hid from his enemies in a hole in the ground underneath a group of women. This is their war-cry?!! This is what they challenge us with? That if we are scary enough, they’ll run off and ‘cleverly’ hide in a hole in the ground?
To quote Wikipedia: “The origin of this haka dates to 1810 when chief Te Rauparaha of the Ngāti Toa iwi (clan or tribe) was being chased by enemies. In a cunning strategem, he hid in a food-storage pit under the skirt of a woman. Because this was an unthinkable thing for a chief to do, Te Rauparaha thought he would be safe. He climbed out to find someone standing over him, who, instead of killing Te Rauparaha, turned out to be another chief friendly to Te Rauparaha. In relief Te Rauparaha performed a haka” – read all about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haka_of_the_All_Blacks
To quote Matt Williams from last weeks pre-opening-ceremony commentary: “Australia’s greatest strength is that we are not in awe of New Zealand like everybody else is. To us, they are just a bunch of bloody Kiwis”.
We should all think the same. As we’d say at home in Limerick “G’wan away ‘n’ hide under ur mudders skirts” … or something.