facing history

Ireland face the haka twice next month, but what does it really mean to the All Blacks?

We spoke to Doug Howlett, Tiki Edwards and Joe Royal about the famous Māori tradition. / YouTube

This post is part of The42′s Facing History series, supported by Cadbury Boost. To read more, click here.

The haka is synonymous with the All Blacks, completely inseparable from their global rugby identity.

Those who have seen the All Blacks performing a haka live often remember the Māori tradition just as vividly as the rugby that follows.

‘Ka Mate’ is recognisable throughout the rugby world, and even beyond it, while ‘Kapa o Pango’ has also been performed by the All Blacks since 2005.

At all tiers of the game in New Zealand, haka are common. Ireland will face the All Blacks’ haka in Chicago and Dublin next month, Munster front up against the Māori All Blacks on 11 November, and Ireland Women take on the Black Ferns on 27 November.

So what do haka really mean?

We asked New Zealand Rugby’s Māori Rugby development manager, Tiki Edwards, to explain the true meaning of a tradition that is deeply rooted in Māori culture.

As the man who teaches New Zealand’s international teams how to perform haka, and why they perform them, Edwards is better qualified than anyone in the rugby world to provide insight.

Thanks to Te Puia, a Rotorua-based centre for Māori cultural experiences and home to a geothermal valley with famous geysers, for allowing filming of their haka.

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