In the land of long tongues

Basically Haka means “dance” in the Maori language. But the term also stands for a special dance of the New Zealand natives, with which the warriors once used to prepare for battle and intimidate the enemy – through sweeping movements, frightening facial expressions and chanting. Nowadays, the haka has also become an integral part of the welcome and entertainment ceremony for guests.

Maori – Photo: Deutschlandfunk

The hands, arms, legs, feet, voice, eyes and tongue express the feelings of the dancers. Some examples of parts of the Haka: Pukana (open eyes), Whetero (stick out tongue) and Potete (close eyes). More than any other aspect of Maori culture, the Haka is an expression of passion, power and identity. At its best it is a message of the soul, expressed through words and gestures.

Christopher Tin is an American composer of concert music, film and video game scores. His work is mainly orchestral and choral, often with a world music influence. He has won two Grammy Awards for his classic crossover album Calling All Dawns. The album was released in 2009 and contains 12 compositions, each in a different language. Among them is the well-known song “Baba Yetu“, which was written for the computer game “Civilization IV”.

The 12th track is the title “Kia hora te marino” (May peace be widespread), set to music in the Maori language. The publishing house “HaFaBra”, Belgium” has now published a brass band version, which appears very calm, but one could also include the original “battle cries” of the Maori warriors. Listen in comparison to the choir recording we have added to the composition.

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