Start Your Day the Haka Way

hakaKia Ora from New Zealand!

As many of you know, I'm presently traveling for part vacation, part networking down in New Zealand. This is an amazing country, rich with culture, sweeping landscapes (check out the pic below of the black sand beach and shoreline at Muriwai Beach) and storied history.

Maori were the first to arrive here, journeying in canoes from Hawaiki about 1,000 years ago where they set up a thriving tribal society that thrived for hundreds of years. A Dutchman, Abel Tasman, was the first European to sight the country but it was the British who were the backbone of colonisation.

Muriwai Beach


In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, an agreement between the British Crown and Maori. It established British law in New Zealand, while at the same time guaranteeing Maori authority over their land and culture. The Treaty is considered New Zealand’s founding document.

The Maori constitute a large part of the population and are an integral part of New Zealand's diverse culture. Many schoolchildren learn the tribal language of the Maori in school and the artistic influences are apparent in everything from clothing to the logo of Air New Zealand. Perhaps the most well known cultural influence is seen in the Haka, a ceremonial dance. In pre-European and early contact times, the haka was used as a part of the formal process when two parties came together. Succinctly put, there was a challenge from the tangata whenua or tribe from that area, followed by a response from the manuhiri or visiting party.

Today, the national All Blacks rugby team has popularized the haka worldwide, using it as part of their opening challenge to opponents on the field of sport. Watch this powerful performance from the All Blacks below:

This year, the All Blacks took the World Cup in rugby, and undoubtedly will spread the popularity of the sport and their unique team challenge. To the All Blacks, this is all part of a ritual - preparing them for the game. It's meant to "psych up" the crowd, and "psych out" the competition.

We can all learn an interesting lesson from the haka - it's a ritual, delivered and received with respect and admiration. Each day we all perform some form of rituals - making the bed, meetings at work, brushing our teeth - but do we have any rituals that enlivens our lives? Do you have a ritual that enriches your life each day? Do you perform a ritual that brings energy into your mind (meditation, mantras, etc) and body (exercise, deep breathing, etc)  rather than one that feels as though it zaps your energy (smoking, drinking, gossiping, stressing, etc)?

Create a new ritual in your life and begin TODAY to infuse it into the very way you approach each day just as the All Blacks incorporate the haka into the way they approach each match. Not sure how to begin? Here are a few tips:

  1. Pick something powerful. Part of the allure of the haka is it's power. Find something that makes you feel strong and powerful; something unique that speaks to you and literally gives you chills.
  2. Do it early. Just as the All Blacks start each game with a haka, start your day with your own ritual to set the tone for the day. Exercise first thing so that other obligations won't get in the way. Eat a healthy, balanced breakfast to provide energy to your body.
  3. Stick with it. It may be easy to start a ritual, the true challenge lies in maintaining it. Make your ritual a priority and note the difference it makes in your day versus the way you feel without it.
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