“We perform haka as an expression of pride,” says Karl Johnstone. Kapa haka, a traditional Māori posture dance, “was about not only intimidating the opponents, but it was about how do we actually prevent degenerating into a battle?” he says. “Haka is all about the expression of your inner energy. The shaking of the hands,” says Johnstone, “that’s an expression of our life force … it’s showing that there’s an energy within you.”

In Māori, kapa means a row, line, or a company of people, and haka means dance. From NPR: New Zealand’s Tuku Iho Living Legacy performers demonstrate this traditional Māori art form at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Learn more about kapa haka Māori performing arts, its 20th century innovations, and kapa haka in the 21st century at Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

Watch another excellent haka performance.

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