Te Manawa is the place to be on Satur­day for mu­sic, per­for­mances, talks based around our na­tional day.

The haka has be­come syn­ony­mous with All Black rugby. The links go right back to the birth of our na­tional game, but how did this come about?

The NZ Rugby Mu­seum’s Stephen Berg says the tra­di­tion of the pre-match haka had its gen­e­sis with the first New Zealand teams.

‘‘At the start of a game, they used to say ‘‘Kia kaha’’ – be strong. Then they added ‘‘Ake, ake, ake’’ – for ever and ever and ever. When 15 voices were shout­ing kia kaha be­fore ev­ery game, it soon got no­ticed.’’

On Wai­tangi Day, as part of the fes­tiv­i­ties at Te Manawa, Stephen has pre­pared in­for­ma­tion for the mu­seum about how the pre-match haka de­vel­oped into what it is to­day.

‘‘The 1905 Orig­i­nals started us­ing Te Rau­paraha’s Ka Mate haka half-way through the tour. They didn’t per­form it, they would clus­ter to­gether and chant it out.’’

The 1924 In­vin­ci­bles wrote their own haka on the voy­age over. Its words ‘‘Kia whaka ngawari o ia hau’’ meant ‘‘Let us pre­pare our­selves for the fray’’.

‘‘It was used on the tour and has never been per­formed again.’’

Nei­ther were haka con­sis­tently per­formed. The tra­di­tional chal­lenge was laid down in South Africa on the 1928 tour, but not on the Bri­tish tour of 1935.

‘‘And re­mem­ber when the play­ers used to leap up high at the end. That’s not right. Per­form­ers are sup­posed to re­main grounded.

‘‘Those early at­tempts at per­form­ing the haka weren’t prac­tised and looked awk­ward.’’

It wasn’t un­til 1987, Stephen says, that All Black cap­tain Buck Shelford, with team-mate Hika Reid, de­manded changes.

‘‘Things ei­ther had to change or the team would drop the haka. It was then that it be­came more in-your-face and in­tim­i­dat­ing, and the haka started to be done prop­erly and with pride.’’

Then came 1999 and the ad­vent of the pro­fes­sional era. Un­der cap­tain Taine Ran­dell, the haka be­came more in­te­grated as part of the wider spec­ta­cle.

In 2005, when Tana Umaga cap­tained the side, the All Blacks got their own haka, Kapa o Pango.

Com­posed by Derek Lardelli to re­flect the coun­try’s grow­ing multi-cul­tural make-up and Poly­ne­sian in­flu­ence in the game, Kapa o Pango is only per­formed on spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

Stephen’s in­for­ma­tion in­cludes the for­ma­tion adopted at last year’s Rugby World Cup.


All Blacks per­form the haka be­fore play­ing NSW at Ath­letic Park, Welling­ton on Septem­ber 15, 1923. NZ won 38-11.

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