Kapa Haka as a Representation of the Culture of New Zealand
February 22, 2014
Kapa haka refers to traditional Māori performing arts. It is one of the best representations of the culture of New Zealand.
Kapa haka is the term for Māori performing arts. The term kappa means to form a line and haka means dance. It presents a performance which is in form of a song, dance and chant and is full of emotions. It is performed by by a number of cultural groups in different places such as school and during special events and festivals.
During a kapa haka performance one gets to have an experience of a range of compositions, from chants and choral singing to graceful action songs and ferocious war dances that best depict things about the culture and the country. Some performances also demonstrate traditional weaponry. It comes in forms of Waiata-ā-ringa, poi, haka and pukana.
Waiata-ā-ringa – In a waiata-ā-ringa or also refers to action songs. The songs contain the lyrics that have meaningful and symbolic hand movements. The performers dance their hands rapidly. The hand movement is called wiri. Wiri symbolises different things on earth such as at gleaming waters, heat waves or even a breeze that makes every tree dance. Waiata-ā-ringa is usually accompanied by a guitar. The sound of the guitar is dependent on the context that the performers depict. It can be be slow, fast, serious, fun and even a manifestation of a person’s flirtatiousness.
Poi – Poi is a sample of a performing dance. The word poi refers to a ball that is attached to a rope or a string. In the said dance each performer swings one or more poi in perfect unison with the others. Such dance showcases the beauty and the gracefulness of the people. The drastic changes in the direction of the poi are accomplished by hitting the ball with the use of a hand or other part of the body, and the sound creates a sound of a percussive rhythm. Poi dancers are usually women. Such dance showcases the beauty and the gracefulness of the women.
Haka – Haka refer to war dances that are characterized by loud chanting, hand movements, foot stamping and thigh slapping. Performers use traditional weapons, such as taiaha (spear-like weapons) and patu (clubs) into their haka.
Pūkana – Pūkana means facial expressions. It plays a vital and significant role in a Māori performance. It gives an emphasis to a song or haka. It also showcases the performer’s fierceness and passion. Both sexes have a different ways of doing the performance. For women, they open their eyes wide and project their tattooed chin. On the other hand, for men, they also open their eyes wide and either stretch their tongue out or bear their teeth. Some of these expressions are found to be intimidating by some audiences. However, they are not a symbol of aggression, but only a demonstration of strong emotions.