Aotearoa, “the land of the long white cloud,” is more commonly known to its visitors as New Zealand. Its beautiful mountains, fields, rivers and streams boast more than just being the filming place of the popular Lord of the Rings trilogy; they are home to a proud and beautiful people: the Māori.



Māori culture is steeped in a rich and distinctive history of crafts, mythology, and customs.

At its onset, the Māori civilization was based almost entirely on agriculture; as time went on, however, a unique and powerful warrior class emerged.

The Māori warriors were large, strong, and intimidating, to say the least, but they didn’t take their strength for granted.

As the number of tribal conflicts increased and the warrior class developed, so did the Māori tradition known as haka.


The haka is, to put it simply, a dance performed by the Māori. While there are various types of haka, many of which are used to celebrate peace, prosperity, and joy, several new haka were introduced as weapons of divine aid and intimidation.

Before entering battle, the warriors of a Māori tribe would perform a war haka, known as the “peruperu.” In unison, the warriors would stomp, slap their chests, brandish their weapons, and yell out a verse of song that had a dual purpose: to warn their enemies of an inevitable destruction, and to invoke the help and protection of Tumatauenga, the Māori god of war.

This kind of haka was made even more fearsome by the facial expressions the Māori warriors made while performing it. While yelling their chant, they would bulge out their eyes and stick out their tongues in defiance against their foes, making themselves appear all the more formidable.

Far from being something lost to the ages of time, the haka is alive and well in the world of rugby.

Many teams will perform a haka before every game they play.

The intent is the same: to intimidate and call down providence from heaven.

 Peter Gregory

peterandwifeAuthor Bio

I’m Peter. I grew up in Seattle, but have been living in Hawaii and Japan for the last 4 years. I love traveling; I love learning about different cultures; I love food, and I love my wife. We’re hoping to go to Korea next year, and graduate school the year after that. My life’s the best kind of dream, the one you don’t have to wake up from.


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Picture Credits


Haka Warriors:

Maori Warriors:

All Blacks Haka Video: