The Haka System

Of all chants great and small, none so stirs the heart as the haka

April 30, 2011

The New Zealand All Blacks – the national rugby team – performs the ancient Maori war chant before each match

There’s a line in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies as he describes the boys amid a gloom-gathered rain storm intone a circle dance, just before Simon stumbles down from the mountaintop and into the maw of the beast: “There was the throb and stamp of a single organism.”

In my home town of Portland, the newly minted Major Soccer League Portland Timbers have a home field advantage called the Timbers Army, who chant for the whole game. In their first two home matches, the Timbers scored seven goals.

Years ago, while in New Zealand for the International System Dynamics Conference, Scott Guthrie and I stayed at a B & B in Wellington.  On the last night, the All Blacks took on the Wallabies from the west island (AKA, Australia) in a home match in Auckland.  Before the match, the All Blacks, the fans in the stands, and our hosts all stood for the chant.

Here, then, is the chant of chants, the All-Blacks with the haka.  Ka tū te ihiihi!*

* We shall stand fearless!

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