I've just finished being welcomed by a Kapa Haka, made up of a group of boys from Liston College. WOW!
Kapa means "row" and Haka means dance. The Liston College Kapa Haka greeted me by doing a traditional welcome Haka. While the intent was to make me feel at home, it was pretty scary! The boys will be blown away by it.
Hakas are an integral part of the part of the enthralling culture of the Maori people of New Zealand. There are also traditional war Hakas meant to challenge and intimidate the enemy. I can't even imagine how scary they must be. Most Hakas are meant to be done in perfect unison. If they are not, it is a bad omen of things to come. But some Hakas are performed in an improvisatory style to express what individuals are feeling, such as the celebratory Hakas at weddings or the funeral Hakas. These Hakas convey intense emotions of happiness, joy and sorrow.
A Haka not only involves choreographed, postured movements, but facial contortions such as showing the whites of the eyes, poking out of the tongue, slapping the hands against the body and stamping the feet. A Haka usually involves chanted words, cries, and grunts. Think of it as a symphony in which the various parts of the body are the instruments of the orchestra.
Special thanks to the KSB Australia families who are sponsoring our major tour activities. Their generosity is having a ripple effect on our budget so that now we are able to add activities we could not have otherwise added. One such activity will take place on Saturday, August 16th, when "Pa," a member of the Maori tribe will teach our boys a traditional welcome Haka. For various reasons (including fiscal reasons), this kind of cultural encounter is exceedingly difficult to arrange. But we've done it. This will be a highlight for the boys and something they will remember their whole lives. So will you when you see them perform a Haka back in Philadelphia!
Check out a Haka: www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI851yJUQQw