The haka: New Zealand icon

The haka popularised by New Zealand’s premier sporting team the All Blacks, Ka Mate, is not the only haka – there are many individual forms of haka.

Ka Mate, the haka of the Ngā ti Toa iwi (tribe), is the most renowned of the celebrated and sometimes feared Māori haka.

It tells the story of a famous Māori chief, Te Rauparaha, as he fled from his enemies and the emotions he goes through as first he thinks that he's about to die, then the relief of knowing he’s been spared. The reference to the ‘hairy person’ is an acknowledgement to those who had helped conceal him from his pursuers.

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!)

All Black haka

Ka Mate was the only haka performed by the All Blacks until 2005 when a new haka - Kapa o Pango - was unveiled before a match against South Africa at Carisbrook Stadium, in Dunedin.

Kapa o Pango - written for the All Blacks by Derek Llardelli, an expert haka composer from the Ngati Porou tribe - roughly translates as 'All Blacks', and the haka also makes reference to the silver fern, another Kiwi sporting icon.

Kapa o Pango translated

Taringa whakarongo!
(Let your ears listen )

Kia rite! Kia rite! Kia mau! Hī!
(Get ready...! Line up...! Steady...! Yeah!)

Kia whakawhenua au i ahau!
(Let me become one with the land)

Hī aue, hī!
(assertive sounds to raise adrenaline levels)

Ko Aotearoa e ngunguru nei!
(New Zealand is rumbling here)

Au, au, aue hā!
(assertive sounds to raise adrenaline levels)

Ko Kapa o Pango e ngunguru nei!
(The Team in Black is rumbling here)

Au, au, aue hā!
(assertive sounds to raise adrenaline levels)

I āhahā!
(assertive sounds to raise adrenaline levels)

Ka tū te Ihiihi
(Stand up to the fear)

Ka tū te Wanawana
(Stand up to the terror)

Ki runga ki te rangi,
(To the sky above!)

E tū iho nei, tū iho nei, hī!
(Fight up there, high up there. Yeah!)

Ponga rā!
(The shadows fall!)

Kapa o Pango, aue hī!
(Team in Black, yeah!)

Ponga rā!
(Darkness falls!)

Kapa o Pango, aue hī, hā!
(Team in Black, Yeah, Ha!)

More information

Aotearoa - New Zealand's unique Maori culture

Introduction to Māori culture

Māori and tourism

Māoritanga - Māori culture explained

Tā moko

Māori connection to land and sea

The Māori marae

A new era: the Māori renaissance

The Treaty of Waitangi

New Zealand icon: Silver fern

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