Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Taking in the Kiwi Haka show

In order to get a better appreciation of the Maori, the native people of New Zealand, we buy tickets for the Kiwi Haka show at the visitor center at the top of the Skyline gondola. A five-member troupe of performers put on a half-hour show comprising traditional song, dance, and storytelling. While we were waiting in line, Peter had been joking back and forth with the ticket-taker, so when the performers came out to welcome us into the theater and asked for a male volunteer, the ticket-taker stood up and pointed at Peter. Dubbed “Chief Peter”, he represented the audience in accepting a peace offering from the Maori. 

The “haka” is a traditional dance that involves aggressive movements and sounds, such as feet stomping, bulging the eyes, and sticking out the tongue. Originally meant to intimidate enemies, today’s hakas are performed for special ceremonies, as a welcome gesture for visitors, and to celebrate special events. The show was outstanding, with the performers singing in loud, clear voices, with obvious pride of their culture. There was even some audience participation, with seven women going up on stage to learn how to use poi, weighted balls attached to cords that Maori women use during traditional dances.

After the show, audience members were invited to join the performers on a platform back in the lobby, where "Chief Peter" struck his most fear-inducing Maori pose.

To give you a better sense of what we saw, I found this video of the Kiwi Haka performance from 2010:


  1. I attended a similar performance at the museum in Auckland. "obvious pride in their culture" is so right, and it was infectious (in a good way). After our performance one could also buy a ticket to a guided tour of the Maori galleries with one of the performers--that was a great treat. I asked our guide who could become Maori and he replied, "Anyone willing to learn our customs, you even." It was most interesting and fun.

  2. It was a fascinating event, Joseph, and only wish it had lasted longer. We may take in more Maori cultural events next week when we returntothe north island. So did you ever "become" Maori??!!

  3. No, none of that, but he was handsome and young enough to tempt me.



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