Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks Haka

  • 01/04/2019

The All Blacks pre-game haka is as synonymous with New Zealand rugby as the black jersey.

Since 1888, NZ representative sports teams have performed haka as part of their preparation or celebration rituals, but no sports team has 'owned' the traditional Māori dance and challenge like the All Blacks.


Haka are commonly perceived as a war dance, but are actually used in a variety of ways within traditional Māori culture.

According to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage's 'Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand' website, there are several types of haka, only one of which is a true war dance - the peruperu.

The others include:

Haka taparahi - a ceremonial dance performed without weapons

Tūtūngārahu - a 'divinatory' dance performed with weapons to judge whether young men are ready to battle

Ngeri - an 'exhortation to rouse a group to achieve its objective', performed without weapons

Puha - a dance performed to raise an alarm

In modern times, haka is often performed to honour people at celebrations or funerals, to show support and manaki in challenging times, and outrage in the face of injustice.

For the All Blacks and other Kiwi sports teams, it's a sign of respect, that connects them to the country they represent and reminds them who they're playing for.

Ka Mate

Written in the early 1800s by Ngati Toa chief Te Rauparaha, 'Ka Mate' was the mainstay of All Blacks haka from 1905-2006.

After escaping the pursuit of an enemy tribe and being rescued by an allied chief, Te Rauparaha penned 'Ka Mate' as a celebration of resilience and life.

While it was initially employed as part of pre-game entertainment, 'Ka Mate' was quickly adopted as a serious ritual - even though its early performances could be described as awkward at best.

Haka were traditionally only performed prior to All Blacks matches outside New Zealand through until 1986. All Blacks greats Wayne Shelford and Hika Reid were then instrumental in introducing a choreographed version of 'Ka Mate' that was performed at matches in New Zealand from 1987.


Ka Mate! Ka Mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!
(I die! I die! I live! I live!)

Ka Mate! Ka Mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!
(I die! I die! I live! I live!)

Tenei te tangata puhuru huru
(This is the hairy man)

Nana nei I tiki mai
(Who fetched the sun)

Whakawhiti te ra
(And caused it to shine again)

A upa … ne! ka upa …ne!
(One upward step! Another upward step!)

A upane kaupane whiti te ra!
(An upward step, another… the sun shines!)


Kapa O Pango

In 2005, the All Blacks added 'Kapa O Pango', written by haka composer Derek Llardelli, to their repertoire.

This haka was composed with the All Blacks specifically in mind - its words and actions celebrate the land of New Zealand, the silver fern and its warriors in black.

But initial performances were shrouded in controversy, after a throat-slitting gesture was included as part of its choreography.

Then, Wallabies coach John Connolly led a call for change in 2007, saying it "incited murder", and the gesture was swiftly removed.

Ironically, 'Kapa O Pango', is a particularly non-violent version of haka, when you take a look at the words.


Kapa O Pango kia whakawhenua au I ahau!
(All Blacks, let me become one with the land)

Hi aue ii!
Ko Aotearoa e ngunguru nei!
(This is our land that rumbles)

Au, au aue ha!
(It's my time! It's my moment!)

Ko Kapa O Pango e ngunguru nei!
(This defines us as the All Blacks)

Au, au, aue ha!
(It's my time! It's my moment!)

I ahaha!
Ka tu te ihiihi
(Our dominance)

Ka tu te wanawana
(Our supremacy will triumph)

Ki runga ki te rangi e tu iho nei, tu iho nei ihi!
(And will be properly revered, placed on high)

Ponga ra!
(Silver fern!)

Kapa O Pango, aue hi!
(All Blacks!)

Ponga ra!
(Silver fern!)

Kapa O Pango, aue hi!
(All Blacks!)