The history of the haka performed by the All Blacks
As part of the history of the New Zealand All- Blacks, we are told the story of the haka ritual, commented by Jenny Shipley, Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Far from being a war cry, the haka «Ka mate" is a celebration of life. Why? Because this haka was composed in the early 19th century by a tribal leader called Te Rauparaha to thank another warrior leader called Te Wharerangi for having saved his life after hiding him in a trench of sweet potatoes while he was being chased by enemies, and after asking his wife to sit in front of the entrance to give him magical protection (female genitalia were regarded as sacred and magical in pre-colonial times). This story may seem banal, but it is actually true: in the lyrics for the Ka mate, we can read the anxiety of the author who can hear his enemies arriving in the village where he had taken refuge. He does not know if he will live or die: Ka mate, ka mate, ka ora, ka ora - I may die, I may die, I may live, I may live. Then, on hearing Te Wharerangi send his opponents off on the wrong track, Te Rauparaha thanks him: Tenei te tangata puhuruhuru nana nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra - This is the hairy man who made the sun shine again. Relieved, the fugitive can finally come out of the trench: A upane, A kaupae - a step upwards, and then another -before seeing the sun shine again: Whiti te ra.
Even though the story told by this haka is perfectly known, it is still unclear why the All Blacks chose to perform this haka in 1905 during their tour of the British Isles. Clearly, their tour was not a duel nor was it supposed to spur on a warring party before a confrontation. It was therefore to ensure consistency that the Kapa o Pango was composed in 2005.