thoughts on music, design and literature

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Maori Haka and the New Zealand All-Blacks

The Maori people of New Zealand have an old tradition called the haka. It's a choreographed group dance that's commonly associated with a pre-battle ritual, whereby Maori warriors would shout, stomp and make threatening gestures at their opponents as a means of intimidating them. Today, the Maori aren't waging too many wars, but the tradition is alive and well, most famously with the New Zealand All Blacks, pretty much the best rugby team in the world. The All Blacks have been performing the haka for over a century now, and it's one of the great traditions in sports.



It really is just an awe-inspiring. (Except if you're the French team in this video, in which case you're probably wetting yourself at this moment.)

I'm closing my album with a Maori song, and with the help of Jerome Kavanagh, a Maori collaborator who happens to be an expert on traditional Maori instruments and music, I'm integrating parts of this tradition into the track. I figure if I can harness just a tenth of the goose-bump-inducing power of the All Blacks haka, I'll have a fine finish to the album. Yet at the same time, I have to be careful; the Maori are very proud of their heritage, and are very protective of their traditions. Whatever I do, and however I do it, I need to proceed with the utmost respect for their culture and traditions. I hope, though, that my intentions will be considered honorable; at once I want to increase awareness of their extraordinary musical and oratorical traditions, and at the same time, integrate it into the over-arching message of Calling All Dawns: that we are all one and the same, and all travel the same journey through life and death.

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