Rotorua pulls huge crowd to smash haka world record

A huge crowd in Rotorua New Zealand has smashed the current Guinness World Record for ‘the largest haka’.

As if it wasn't enough to have the British & Irish Lions in town, Rotorua New Zealand has pulled the world’s biggest ever haka crowd with this morning's attempt on the Guinness World Record for ‘the largest haka’.

The All Blacks were nowhere in sight this morning but more than 7700 energetic haka performers were present on Rotorua’s village green as the 'Ka Mate, Ka Mate' chant they’ve made world famous roared out across the city.

With the official count sitting at 7700, the huge crowd gathered on the shores of Lake Rotorua has certainly smashed the current world record set in France in 2014. 

Rotorua is now the home of the world’s largest haka. All there is to wait for is the official verification from Guinness World Records.

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Led by Rotorua Boys’ High School students and some of New Zealand’s leading kapa haka champions, the massive group performed the famed Ngāti Toa Rangatira haka, Ka Mate.

Locals as well as visiting fans took part including Meg and Roger Griffin who travelled from Birmingham to follow the British & Irish Lions around New Zealand. 

"It is just so fantastic to be a part of all this. You come for the games but get all of these incredible experiences as extras. New Zealand is just amazing," Roger said.  

The powerful haka left locals and visitors in awe when confronted with the sheer size and volume of the war dance. The haka is an ancient posture dance of the New Zealand Māori that was traditionally used to prepare a war party for battle. These days it is more likely to be performed before All Blacks’ games and on significant solemn occasions.

Tristan Tuckey, co-founder of the International Rugby Club who masterminded the event, was ecstatic that the record was broken. 

"What an incredible sight. The people of Rotorua and everyone else who came down are awesome," Tuckey said. 

The official record currently stands at 4028 participants achieved at an event organised by car manufacturer Mazda in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France, in 2014. The number to beat however was 6200 - the number of participants who performed a haka last year in Masterton (also in New Zealand) although their attempt is yet to be officially ratified. 

The number of haka participants represented more than 10% of Rotorua’s entire population.

The world record attempt took place before the travelling British and Irish Lions took on the New Zealand Māori All Blacks at the Rotorua International Stadium on Saturday night. The haka was performed as part of Rugby 2017 Festival. 

“Staging the haka before the Rotorua game where the Māori All Blacks face off against the British and Irish Lions just couldn’t be in a better setting,” International Rugby Club’s co-founder and event organiser Tony Molloy says. 

New Zealand’s Māori culture centre, Rotorua is also the country's oldest tourism destination. The city (pop: 65,000) sits on an active geothermal landscape of geysers, hot spots and mud pools amid 18 trout-filled lakes.

Evidence of the attempt will now be presented to Guinness World Records which can take up to 15 weeks to confirm the record. 

ABOUT: 'Ka mate, Ka mate'

Ka mate, Ka mate - the original All Black haka - was composed in the early 19th century by famous Māori warrior chief Te Rauparaha, of the Ngāti Toa Rangatira tribe.

Te Rauparaha was fleeing an enemy tribe seeking retribution for a past wrong he had committed against them. As he was chased across the central plateau of the North Island, fellow chief Te Wharerangi helped him hide in a pit and then instructed his wife Te Rangikoaea to sit on the pit entrance.

After the enemy had moved on, Te Rauparaha emerged from the pit. There, in jubilant celebration of his lucky escape and in front of Te Wharerangi and his people, he performed Ka mate, Ka mate which he had composed while deep in the pit.

Ka Mate - translated

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!)

Tēnei te tangata pū huruhuru
(This is the hairy person)

Nā na nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te rā
(Who caused the sun to shine again)

A hā pane! A kaupane!
(One step up! Another step up!)

A hā pane! A kaupane!
(One step up! Another step up!)

Whiti te rā! Hi!
(The sun shines!)