November 6, 2006

Theatre on the Rugby Pitch

Much to Stephen’s delight I have increased my ability to watch sport on TV. In other words I can have the game on in the background and still be able to read a book or nap on the couch.

To my delight I have found an aspect of Rugby that I truly enjoy – and only the New Zealand All Blacks team features it – the Maori Haka. This is a war dance performed by any New Zealand sports team prior to competing. Regardless of their heritage all the players participate. It is really a spectacular site.

The players stand in rows and face the opposing team. They crouch into a squat and cross their arms over their chests. They take a few deep breaths and then begin the war cry and dance. Their faces look like tribal masks as they contort their features. Fingers pulse to imitate heat rising from the ground. Screams and shouts in the Maori language reinforce their fierceness. It is no wonder that this is the best team in International Rugby.

The team’s website states “More than any aspect of Maori culture, this complex dance is an expression of the passion, vigour and identity of the race.” Stephen believes that Rugby has brought the European and Maori cultures together in peace. You can never call Rugby peaceful but seeing the dance and then hearing the New Zealand national anthem sung in Maori proves him right. It is a true melding of cultures.

Check out the Haka videos on the All Blacks website.