Haka in popular culture

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An animation of an amateur New Zealand rugby team performing the Haka in front of Trafalgar Square in London, England

The haka is a traditional Māori dance form. The use of haka in popular culture is a growing phenomenon, originally from New Zealand. Traditionally, haka were used only in Māori cultural contexts, but today haka are used in a wide range of public occasions to impart a sense of importance of the event.

New Zealand sports teams[edit]

For over 100 years the All Blacks have had a tradition of performing a haka before games (see Haka of the All Blacks). This has become the most widely known use of the haka, but several other New Zealand sports teams now perform the haka before commencing a game. These include rugby league (the Kiwis), the national Australian rules football team (The Hawks), basketball (Tall Blacks), wheelchair rugby (Wheel Blacks)[1] and Ice Hockey (Ice Blacks).

In addition to this planned, formalised usage, teams and supporters now often perform impromptu haka as a celebration or encouragement.[2] At the Sydney Olympics in 2000 these uses of the haka were numerous enough to draw some negative comment.[3][4]

Use by non-New Zealand sports teams[edit]

A number of sports teams outside of New Zealand have adopted the haka, most notably the American football teams of Brigham Young University, University of Hawaii and Trinity High School in Euless, Texas as well as the Highland Rugby Team. Both the Coventry Jets and the London Olympians, British American Football teams, have, on occasions, performed the haka before their games. Both squads have had a large number of Polynesian players over the past 5 years.


The haka is also performed by members of the New Zealand Defence Force as a show of solidarity such as during funerals of fallen comrades.[5] All three services have their own haka. The New Zealand Army has a haka composed specifically for them called Tu Taua a Tumatauenga.



  • British actor Jamie Foreman performs the Haka briefly in order to intimidate a rival in the 2000 film Gangster No. 1.
  • Pai performs a haka at a school performance in Whale Rider.
  • In the film Once Were Warriors, tha character Boogie performs the haka while at a detainment center.
  • A bonus feature on the Blu-ray release of Avatar shows the stunt team giving director James Cameron a haka performance.[17]
  • A bonus feature on the extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King shows the stunt crew giving a haka in honor of Viggo Mortensen and Bernard Hill (among others) on the last day of filming for the two actors. The crew noted that Mortenson and Hill's characters were kings, and so the haka was performed for "two kings".
  • At the end of the film Wild Child, before the final lacrosse match, the Abbey Mount team performed a version of a Haka.
  • In Invictus, the All Blacks are featured performing the Haka before the Final.
  • In Forever Strong, the Highland Rugby team performs the Haka and is a reoccurring theme throughout the film.
  • In the 2016 animated film Moana, the character Maui performs the haka several times.

Flashmob haka craze of 2011[edit]

In the lead up to the Rugby World Cup in 2011, flashmob hakas became a popular way of expressing support for the All Blacks. Some Maori leaders thought it was "inappropriate" and a "bastardisation" of the traditional war cry,[18] despite its popularity. Sizeable flashmob hakas were performed in Wellington[19] and Auckland,[20] as well as London, which has a large Kiwi expat community.[21]

In November 2012, a Maori kapa haka group from Rotorua performed a version of the "Gangnam Style" dance mixed with a traditional Maori haka in Seoul, celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations between South Korea and New Zealand.[22]

Other uses[edit]

  • Haka is mentioned on page 88 of the Guinness World Records, where it states that 2,200 people performed the biggest haka in Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia, on 3 September 2005. It was run by Gene Elder and the New Zealand Victoria Business Group (NZVBG). The previous record was 800.
  • In 1991, two adverts for Chugai Pharmaceutical's Guronsan DX starred by Junji Takada and Minoru Tanaka featured people doing a version of the haka chanting the words "Ganbatte! Ganbatte!" (Do your Best! Do your best!).
  • In 1998, a British TV advert for National Lottery instant scratch cards showed a team of bowlers perform the Haka against another team.
  • From 2002 until 2005, a BBC One "Rhythm and Movement" ident showed a Maori rugby player and fourteen Welsh rugby players performing a haka.
  • A recent commercial for William Lawson's Scotch whisky featured a rugby team (presumably the All Blacks) performing a haka to intimidate a kilted Scottish team. The Scots "answered" the haka by flashing the opposing team.
  • Due to a resemblance of a certain hand movement performed in haka to bent elbow, popular Turkish TV presenter Metin Uca used footage from a haka performance for his social and political criticism targeted at some people and establishments, with a catch phrase: "Here, we're sending a haka dance to...."
  • In the comic strip Get Fuzzy, Bucky Katt on one occasion does the traditional Ka Mate haka, to which his roommates Rob and Satchel react by agreeing to stay out of his way. Comic creator Darby Conley is a rugby fan and has referenced the All Blacks in other strips. However, Bucky's version is not the same version as the one the All Blacks use.
  • In the Domus Mundi song "Reprisal (Malis Avibus)" by the Austrian black metal band Hollenthon.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Sontaran Stratagem", the Sontarans perform a ritual quite similar to a haka.
  • In the introduction to MTV's 2009 edition of Real/World Road Rules Challenge: The Duel II, filmed in New Zealand, the contestants perform a haka.
  • In the reality TV Show Biggest Loser, Season 7, Sione and Philipe, two Tongan contestants, perform the haka on a number of occasions throughout the season, including the season finale.
  • On the Red Faces segment of Australian TV show Hey Hey It's Saturday in 1994, six men performed the nursery rhyme Old McDonald in the style of the Haka. This was the first act in Red Faces history to score a perfect score of 30.
  • The "Shaolin Monk vs. Māori Warrior" episode of the American TV series Deadliest Warrior features excerpts of the Ka Mate haka performed by the members of the Māori team during weapons testing and by various reenactors.
  • WWE Samoan tag team The Usos regularly performed a siva tau as part of their entrance.
  • In the Star Wars Republic Commando series, the clone troopers perform a haka-like Mandalorian ritual battle chant called "Dha Werda Verda." This may have been author Karen Traviss' nod to the Māori ancestry of actor Temuera Morrison, who portrayed bounty hunter Jango Fett in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. In both the film and the novels, all clones were replicated from Jango's DNA.
  • The Finnish Mieskuoro Huutajat ("Screaming Men Choir") performs rhythmic shouting and yelling that shows strong similarities to the Haka cries.
  • The dance emote of the Charr race in Guild Wars 2 is based on Haka moves.
  • In the novel Earth Afire, half-Maori soldier Mazer Rackham chants Ka Mate.
  • On It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, during the episode "Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games" during the pregame to their home made game, they perform the haka as one of the Maori war-dances the group does to psyche each other out and to prepare themselves for the game. As it stands the episode is one of the commonly re-run episodes. During the dance they lack the chant but make up for it in an accurately performed homage.
  • Rengar, a champion in League of Legends, does the Ka Mate for his dance emote.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the Vanu Vanu beastmen performs their own version of the haka known as the sundrop dance, which can be unlocked as an emote for the player character after reaching a certain level of recognition with the Gundu tribe.
  • Actor Jason Momoa performed a haka as part of his audition for the role of Khal Drogo in the Game of Thrones TV series.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Palmer, Curtis (September 11, 2008). "Time heals". OneSport. Retrieved 2008-09-16. September 5: Haka and honours 
  2. ^ "Sports Leaders of the year: Moss Burmester". The New Zealand Herald. 9 December 2006. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  3. ^ Eves, Tim (18 March 2006). "Now it's a new haka for every sport". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "Kiwis deny overdoing haka at Games". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Soldiers' farewell haka footage goes viral". The New Zealand Herald. 28 August 2012. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ ""RAUKURA" : Our Haka" (PDF). Rotoruaboyshighschool.nz. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  8. ^ [2] Archived August 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Martori, Art (October 27, 2006), "East Valley meets Pacific islands", East Valley Tribune, retrieved 30 October 2014 
  10. ^ "Jackrabbit History & Traditions", MesaJackrabbitFootball.org, retrieved 30 October 2014  |contribution= ignored (help)
  11. ^ Finley, Ryan (August 28, 2012), "Arizona Wildcats football: Learn how to Haka from Tuihalamaka", Arizona Daily Star, retrieved 30 October 2014 
  12. ^ Finley, Ryan (August 25, 2012), "Cats' new traditions unveiled in scrimmage", Arizona Daily Star, retrieved 30 October 2014 
  13. ^ Stokes, Jon (September 17, 2005), "Taking the haka to American football games", The New Zealand Herald, retrieved 30 October 2014 
  14. ^ Steves, Talo (December 7, 2006), "A Haka For Everyone", byu.scout.com, Scout.com, retrieved 30 October 2014 
  15. ^ Hougaard, Todd (April 29, 2013), "BYU rugby: Cougars will rely on New Zealanders in national title game", Deseret News, retrieved 30 October 2014 
  16. ^ "About", rugby.byu.edu, BYU Rugby, retrieved 30 October 2014  |contribution= ignored (help)
  17. ^ [3] Archived April 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ "Maori leaders at odds over flash mob haka". 3 News NZ. September 20, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Wellington haka attracts hundreds". 3 News NZ. September 8, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Flash mob haka on Auckland's Queen Street ahead of RWC opener All Blacks vs Tonga". 3 News NZ. September 9, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Flashmob haka takes over Trafalgar Square". 3 News NZ. November 19, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Maori take on Gangnam Style in Korea". 3 News NZ. November 30, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Jason Momoa's Game of Thrones Audition". YouTube. AstronomicalSexy. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 

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