Learning the Haka / by Ben Weston

I've been wanting to learn the Haka for years. 

The first time I saw it was after stumbling upon this video. I cried watching this brotherhood of men coming to together to powerfully honor their brother. 

I wanted that. 

I decided this year that I would do whatever it took, even if it meant flying to New Zealand to learn it. 

I first tried Googling "Haka NYC" and "New Zealand dance NYC" but not a damn thing came up. No matter. I called up the New Zealand Consulate in NYC, spoke with their cultural affairs department and was told that they knew someone in California that organized an even that had a Haka performance. I contacted her and she told me about a guy in LA that lead the Haka group. I contacted him and asked him if he'd be open to teaching me this traditional dance.

After several back and forth messages, we had a date set and I was on my way to LA to learn the Tika Tonu, the Haka from the above video. 

The origin story of this particular Haka is that it was composed by a highly respected Maori chief for his son. The message was for young men making the difficult transition to adulthood: look inside you for the answers you're seeking and persevere, persevere, persevere. 

So grateful to have gotten to learn this powerful dance and the culture behind it, and with my dear brother Michael Hrostoski no less.

Thank you, Nico Ihimaera Rooseboom-deVries, for sharing your culture with me.