Posted by: mariabro | October 11, 2011

Ka mate! Ka Mate! Ka Ora! Ka Ora!

I’m Canadian and I like hockey. I really don’t know much about rugby.  I know the Canadian rugby team has heart.  Like, when they played the All Blacks and were losing by about 50 points with about 5 minutes left, Kleeberger made a huge hit from the bottom of his huge Canadian heart.  The hit heard ’round the world.  I also like NFL football, guys with heart, like Doug Flutie.   But I am now a HUGE rugby fan.  These guys don’t wear pads. And to make it on the  All Blacks I think you have to be camera-worthy.  Speaking of “worthy”, that reminds me of the Elaine -“worthy” episode on Seinfeld.  These guys are definitely “worthy”.  The Haka for me is like porn for men, I imagine.  It shows men in all their feral glory.  I love the burning intensity in their eyes as they stare down their opponents.  I love the ritualistic chanting and thumping.  Nothing is sexier than confidence and thigh-thumping.  I love watching the opposing players as they try to remain unresponsive.  It’s impossible to remain unresponsive to this visceral display of passion. I pretty much need a cigarette after it’s over.  Sometimes I don’t even watch the game.

There are several myths associated with the Haka.  It’s often thought of as a Maori War Dance, but it can also be a tribal greeting and includes references to the power of female sexuality (or our  powerless-ness in the face of such raw masculinity).  According to folklore, the haka originated from the sun god Ra and his wife Hine-raumati.  Legend has it that the shimmering of the hot summer sun is actually Hine-raumati’s son, Tanerore, performing for his mother ( methinks Jocasta doth prevail).  The wiriwiri or trembling shimmer, is reflected in the trembling of the haka performer’s hands.  The dance was used by the Maories to ensure that when two tribes met, they would not attack each other.  Female tribal members also participate in the dance.

According to Alan Armstrong in his book, Maori Games and Haka, “The haka is a composition played by many instruments. Hands, feet, legs, body, voice, tongue, and eyes all play their part in blending together to convey in their fullness the challenge, welcome, exultation, defiance or contempt of the words. It is disciplined, yet emotional. More than any other aspect of Maori culture, this complex dance is an expression of the passion, vigour and identity of the race. It is at it’s best, truly, a message of the soul expressed by words and posture..”

There are a few versions of the Haka but the newer, controversial Kapa o Pango is my favorite.

and the traditional Ka Mate –

As I watch these warriors, I wonder what it would have been like to face them on the battlefield with weapons in their fists and I’m thinking I’d rather face them in a pub with a cider in hand.

Here are two more versions of the Haka which I recently discovered. You are more likely to run into these warriors in the pub than on the battleground.

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