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How should haka be performed?

Te Keepa Stirling shares his ideas about haka and how students can use the wairua of our forebears to empower their performance.


The haka is something that belongs to you especially. I say to my students, don’t forget you are the embodiment of the elders, don’t forget you have eyes in your head and a tongue inside you. Those emotions inside you will animate your tongue. Don’t poke out your tongue just for the sake of doing so, if you don’t understand the meaning of the words of the haka, just to fill up that particular part of the haka and impress the people looking at you so they might think you know you are poking out your tongue to convey the meaning of the words. To me, no.

Focus on the words. Your hands and your body are there to lift the words you are uttering. If there are no words, there is no haka, you are just standing there… To all the young people in kapa haka everywhere in the schools all over the country, the kapa haka is the spirit of the ancestors alive and well in the now. It is flowing through us as we live. If you wish to have their spirit cling to you, let your hands fly to the sky in the haka and then sow that spirit, the spirit of our ancestors inside yourselves. Drag it ashore, stamp the ground, perform your task in the haka. Who is it who is in front of you, behind you? It is the spirit of your ancestors. Do not forget you are the remnant left behind by those earlier people. You are a gift of the spirit from the spirit world. They shared their essence, they established the next generation. It was done in turn by your parents, they made you, the students performing in the haka group. Stand with dignity, stand boldly, stand in your unique fashion, because your generation doing the kapa haka will carry forward this advice in turn to the next generation, to explain it to them, the generation growing up tomorrow. You are their spokesperson, the future generation. I salute you, I salute you, incredible young people, all the best to you.