Vashon Does the New Zealand Haka!
Island Voices

Vashon Does the New Zealand Haka!

By Erin Durrett

Okay, so what is haka? Haka is the sacred dance of fire, passion, devotion to the land, the ancestors, the clan, the Earth, and all beings – the great dance of the Māori people.

My first glimpse of the haka was a few minutes at the end of the film “Whale Rider.” As I watched the Māori people dancing on the beach, the energy, pride, and love of their community captivated me – I was hooked! A search of the internet brought me to videos of the All Blacks New Zealand rugby team – they do a haka before every match as a challenge to the opposing team – wow! Haka is also done by the friends and family of the bride and groom to honor them at traditional wedding parties – wow!

It was clear to me that the haka is a vital, living artistic tradition that pervades New Zealand’s culture right to its core – and it’s for everyone, no matter their ancestry. I delved a little deeper and found Amelia Butler, a young Māori woman who now lives here in the United States and has founded her own company teaching Te Reo Māori (the indigenous language of New Zealand), as well as Te Ao Māori, the cultural and spiritual traditions of her home country. What an incredible legacy!

On Friday, April 14th, Amelia Butler will be here on Vashon to share the artistic and spiritual traditions of her native land.

Session 1 – Singing the Land: Māori Sacred Song

Explore Māori song, chant, and ritual as it relates to land, place, ancestors, nature, and ourselves. Through indigenous knowledge and wisdom, we will re-create our relationship with land and the natural world.

Session 2 – Song by Hand: Māori Action Song

Learn a traditional Māori “song by hand” that will connect us together, through shared dance, movement, hand motions, and voice. There is power in embodied movement that connects us to nature and to each other.

Session 3 – Haka: Embodied Song

Haka incorporates full-body movement, voice, facial expressions, self-expression, mind, breath, spirit, posture, and action. Haka activates your personal power and authentic self. It is a transformational and empowering experience.

Please join us! The first two sessions are for teens and adults, and the third session is for all ages. For more information and to register email:

The words and thoughts of indigenous peoples all over the world are shaped by the landscapes they have lived in for thousands of years, and their relationships with the other beings that inhabit those landscapes.  This chance to explore Māori culture will help us deepen our relationship with this place that sustains us in so many ways, and with the wisdom that is held in the land itself.

March 22, 2023

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