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Haka

Haka is often described as a "War Dance", but itís more a chant with hand gestures and foot stamping. Originally performed by warriors before a battle, it proclaims their strength and prowess, and generally verbally abuses the opposition.

There were two types of war haka - one performed without weapons, usually to express public or private feelings, known as the "haka taparahi", and the war haka with weapons, the "peruperu". The "peruperu" was traditionally performed before going into battle. It was to invoke Tumatauenga, the god of war, and warned the enemy of the fate awaiting him. It involved fierce facial expressions and grimaces, poking out of the tongue, eye bulging, grunts and cries, and the waving of war weapons.

Before actually going into battle, the warriors would assemble together. The warrior leading the "taua", or war band, would move into the centre of the men to lead the haka. At his call, the warriors would prepare for the "peruperu" haka, during which the tribal elders would make a careful inspection during the dance. If the haka was not performed in total unity, this could be taken as an omen of disaster for the battle to come. During the actual haka before battle, the dancing warriors would eyeball the enemy. Sometimes this would be to stress a particular action during the haka, such as a slicing movement with the arm to indicate the fate awaiting the enemy.

The haka may also be used to tell of great feats, or danced as a special welcome before a high-ranking guest. A haka can also express grievance, or it could be addressing a prayer to one of the ancient Maori Gods.

As with the Polynesian language group, the core components of the haka are reflected in many Polynesian cultures. Most islandís traditions say that the haka was brought from Hawaiki, their mythical ancestral homeland. New Zealand is home of the most famous haka: the ďAll BlacksĒ, New Zealandís national rugby team, performs a Maori haka before their matches. Likewise other Pacific cultures have evolved their own form of haka Ė the Samoans emphasize their weapons, Tahitians are more gentle, and the Rarotongans have vigorous forms of dance chant similar to the Maori.

In game terms, the Haka card provides one victory point for its owner (because itís such a cool thing) and also a bonus in combat. A successful haka will cause extra enemy warriors to flee in panic!


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