Students from various schools in New Zealand came together to perform the Haka dance, which is a traditional war dance.
The Christchurch incident that took place around a little over a week back has stunned the entire world. The horrific attacks on the two mosques that were aimed at pitting the Muslims and the west against each other (as said by the alleged shooter, Brenton Tarrant) has instead united the entire country of New Zealand to fight against terrorism and protect one another. Mobs have made peace with each other in order to protect the Muslims, people across all communities joined in the prayer that was held on Friday to pay their respects. The most recent one in the list is students from various schools coming together to perform the traditional Haka dance.
The students' haka was probably one of the most moving performances among all the ones that were performed in the wake of the shooting. They paid tribute to two of their peers who died in the Christchurch shooting. Scores of fellow students came together and formed a thunderous chorus, mourning and honoring them. According to Globe and Mail Canada, the students were across communities performed a haka that held a particularly poignant meaning: It is the haka used by Cashmere High School, which had lost two students, one alumni and a few staff in the attack.
The haka is a traditional dance that originated from the Maori culture. Most people in the world are familiar with the dance, thanks to the New Zealand rugby team. The dance is a group performance involving synchronized movements, lots of stomping, shouting, and fierce facial expressions. As times have gone, there have been new additions made to the dance. It is slightly altered for every performance, depending on what the situation is and on who taught the dance to the community. Although the dance is often thought of as a war dance, the central theme of the performance is actually respect.
In an interview with BBC, Matthew Tukaki, executive director of the Maori Council of New Zealand, explained that traditionally the haka is a war dance performed to threaten or basically warn the enemy. However, he said that the meaning has changed over time. When the All Blacks do it, it's to scare the opposition, however, the dance was performed by a group of students to show their respect to their fellow classmates and other victims who passed away during the shootings last week. The words change depending on the purpose.
Students from Al Madinah Islamic school in Mangere, south #Auckland, perform a Haka in tribute to the victims of the #ChristchurchMosque massacre. https://t.co/xJWUd2Vvpq h/t @TalaatSYehia pic.twitter.com/Nu9DFxUOzK— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) March 20, 2019
In recent days, there have been countless times where a group of New Zealanders has performed the Haka in honor of the Christchurch victims. "I am not all surprised to see this," says Donna Hall, a fellow member of the Maori Council. "It's a spiritual response to what has happened and it really is intended to tap the spiritual depth of people." She further mentioned that it was very important for the country to have this unifying response at the moment, especially since everyone is still shocked after what happened.
VIDEO: Students from Cashmere High School, two of whose students were killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks, perform a Haka for New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pic.twitter.com/mHpCzCxLtn— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 20, 2019
Is it ok for non-Maori New Zealanders to perform a haka? "Yes," Mr Tukaki says emphatically. "This is a special time. We are at a special moment in New Zealand history, but also one that will be important for our future." In his opinion, cultural appropriation would only be an issue if the cultural elements were to be adopted outside the community without any Maori involvement. However, this is not the case in the current situation. He believes that all the videos of people performing the dance are going viral and this is a good thing.
He believes that it is a powerful statement of unity that is sent out to the people in the world, countering the hatred that influenced the shooter's thinking. "Let's overwhelm them with love," he says. "I've seen haka from New Zealand, but also from Chicago, New York, London, and Sydney. I have seen boys from a Muslim school in Auckland doing it - and it makes me very proud." Along with the nationwide prayer and silence that was held on Friday, a nationwide haka too was performed.
"While there will be many different haka on Friday, there will be one common theme," Ms Hall explained ahead of the day. "We will be taking a stand against hatred, showing love and compassion for our Muslim community."
Here are the words to the haka specially commissioned by the Maori Council to commemorate the victims of the Christchurch shooting.
Haka Koiora - Haka for life
Paiahahā, Paiahahā (Attention! Attention!)
He aha rā ka tāpaea ngā mahi kikino (Why do we wait for something bad to happen)
Ki te kūkūtia tātou katoa e? (To eventually come together?)
Ia ha ha!
E oho, kia tika rā (Wake up, be true!)
Unuhia ngā here o te kino, (Strip away bad things like)
Whakatakē, whakaparahako e (Negativity and belittling others)
Ko te pūtake o te whakaaro, he kaikir (because the underlining factor is racism)
Takatakahia Hi (Stomp on it)
Wherawherahia Hi (Get rid of it)
Kia tū te tangata koia anake (So all that remains is your true person)
Ko au, Ko koe, ko koe, ko au, ko tāua e (I am you, you are me, this is us)
Ko te mea nui o te ao (The greatest thing in this world)
He tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata e ('Tis people, 'Tis people, 'Tis people)
Composed by Dr Ken Kennedy, Koro Tini and Jamus Webster