Dancing your haka

The All Blacks first used the ritual dance of the Ka Mate haka back in 1906. It is a symbolic performance before the start of a match which emotively connects the Kiwi rugby players and impresses their opponents. It is even believed to connect today's All Blacks with the spiritual energy of all predecessors.

This haka has been composed by Te Rauparaha of Ngāti Toa to commemorate his escape from death during an incident in 1810. Chased by enemies he hid in a food-storage pit under the skirt of a woman. He climbed out to find someone standing over him, who, instead of killing him, turned out to be a friendly chief. In relief Te Rauparaha performed this ancient haka, which had been performed all through Aotearoa for centuries (Ko Nga Moteatea, 1853).

The Ka Mate haka generally opens with a set of five preparatory instructions shouted by the leader, before the whole team joins in:

"Ka Mate"



Ringa pakia!

Slap the hands against the thighs!

Uma tiraha!

Puff out the chest.

Turi whatia!

Bend the knees!

Hope whai ake!

Let the hip follow!

Waewae takahia kia kino!

Stomp the feet as hard as you can!



Ka mate, ka mate

'I die, I die,



Ka ora' Ka ora'

'I live, 'I live,



Ka mate, ka mate

'I die, 'I die



Ka ora Ka ora "

'I live, 'I live,



Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru

This is the fierce, powerful man

Nāna i tiki mai whakawhiti te rā

...Who caused the sun to shine again for me

A Upane! Ka Upane!

Up the ladder, Up the ladder

Upane Kaupane"

Up to the top

Whiti te rā,!

The sun shines!



So many organizations forget to effectively use the power of symbolism and rituals to connect and engage people in their hearts. At best such organizations identify themselves with a corporate name and logo. And the C-suite might have issued a clear but mostly uninspiring mission & vision statement combined with some core value lingo. For a brand to be really appealing and inspire collective energies, obviously a different approach needs to be followed. Not that we now collectively have to start chanting hymns and perform folk dances. But think about it. For a collective to be really successful, how could it unleash and cultivate its emotive capital through a combination of inspirational visual, auditive and tactile symbolism?

Now ask yourself, what is your organizations's haka and who is leading it?

Get inspiredAlexander Koene