HAKA “KA MATE KA MATE” New Zealand v USA

It is an inspiring few minutes at any time to watch a Haka being performed.

The recent New Zealand basketball team version when they played the USA is priceless. I am always inspired by the sound, vision and passion of a haka, usually I see it against Australia and we’re very used to our south Pacific bro’s ‘dance’ but this one has that extra of coming unexpected. The looks on the USA players say so much, they seem intrigued and in a bewildered wonderment at the chant.

Even though the NZ team lost to USA at this point the USA appeared the real loser.

The Afro-American team members will have mostly lost any African or even Caribbean cultural heritage they have in their backgrounds, subsumed by the modern ‘culture’ of the US.

Even though culturally speaking for the Maori that haka is relatively new, the tribal meaning and connection remains in the performance. The fact that as a nation New Zealand has a treaty (Waitangi) with its indigenous population ensures a respect that garners collaborative approaches in many areas of New Zealand policy. Something sadly also missing in Australian history (see last  link below for Yothu Yindi Video ‘Treaty’)

The US is not united and even though Team USA won the game with panache and basketball superiority, my feelings went out particularly to the Afro-American team members who, for a brief moment seemed to recognise something from their past that they had lost.

Ka mate Ka mate

Ka mate Ka mate                                       It is death It is death
Ka ora Ka ora                                             It is life It is life
Ka mate Ka mate                                       It is death It is death
Ka ora Ka ora                                             It is life It is life
Tenei Te Tangata Puhuruhuru               This is the hairy man
Nana i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra             Caused the sun to shine again for me
Upane Upane                                            Up the ladder Up the ladder
Upane Kaupane                                        Up to the top
Whiti te ra                                                  The sun shines! 

Maori Lyrics translated to English see site here  

and from the All Blacks Rugby website some brief background to the Ka Mate chant (see here ) a section appears below.

“KA MATE 

The famous haka; Ka Mate Ka Mate, was composed by Ngati Toa Chieftain Te Rauparaha around 1820, with the story of its composition being well known within the oral histories of Ngati Toa and Ngati Tuwharetoa, the two iwi (tribes) most associated with its origins.

During a time of conflict Te Rauparaha was being pursued by warriors of a rival iwi, and was hidden by Te Wharerangi of Tuwharetoa in a kumara (native sweet potato) pit, with Te Wharerangi’s wife Te Rangikoaea being directed to sit on top. Guided by their Tohunga (scholar/priest) the warriors searched for Te Rauparaha and as they drew near he muttered “Ka Mate Ka Mate” (It is death, it is death).

Concealed from the Tohunga by the spiritual powers of both food and the woman above, Te Rauparaha was not discovered, and as the searchers passed overhead he muttered “Ka ora Ka ora” (It is life, it is life). When the warriors finally departed Te Rauparaha was able to climb up out of the kumara pit chanting “Tenei te tangata puhuruhuru nana nei i tiki mai whaka whiti te ra”. There are many interpretations of these words and “tangata puhuruhuru” may be a reference to the hairy man (Te Wharerangi), but Ngati Toa oral tradition holds that Te Rauparaha was giving credit to the spiritual power of Te Rangikoaea as he ascended (Upane, Kaupane) from the darkness of the pit into the light of the sun (Whiti te ra! Hi!)

Then there’s the All Blacks additional Haka, ‘Kapa O Pango’ translated simply as ‘team in black’.

Rather than replace the traditional haka, Ka Mate, Kapa O Pango sits alongside it as a new addition to the All Blacks’ tradition. Kapa O Pango is performed from time to time at the team’s discretion………….. A year in the making, Kapa O Pango was written for the team by Derek Lardelli, an expert in tikanga Maori (Maori culture and customs) of the Ngati Porou iwi. Its words and actions celebrate the land of New Zealand, the silver fern and its warriors in black.

Kapa O Panngo                                      Let me go back to my first gasp of breath
kia whakata hoki au i ahau                  Let my life force return to the earth
hi aue, hi                                                                        

ko aotearoa e ngunguru nei                   It is New Zealand that thunders now
au! au! aue ha!                                           And it is my time! It is my moment!
ko Kapa O e ngunguru nei                      The passion ignites! This defines us as the All Blacks
au! au! aue ha!                                           And it is my time! It is my moment!  
i ahaha                                                        The anticipation explodes!
ka tu te ihiihi                                               Feel the power              
ka tu te wanawana                                     Our dominance rises                   
ki runga i te rangi e tu iho nei, tu iho nei Our supremacy emerges To be placed on high
ponga ra!                                                       Silver fern!
Kapa O Pango!                                             All Blacks!
ponga ra!                                                      Silver fern!               
Kapa O Pango!                                             All Blacks!
aue hi!                                                            aue hi!

RESPECT! to New Zealand for the Treaty

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