Dances of New Zealand To Get You Off Your Seat

The dances of New Zealand are mainly the Haka and Poi dances, and largely owe it to the Maori culture. The Haka was popularized by New Zealand’s own rugby team ‘All Blacks’ and Poi dance is estimated to have at least a million fans worldwide. Now, if you need to know anything more, here’s a glimpse into their traits and interesting origin stories of the dances of New Zealand:

Haka dance
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The Different Types of Dances of New Zealand

The Haka

Tourists can enjoy ‘Haka’ by attending any of the performances held regularly at the War Memorial Museum in the port of Auckland. Waireki Terraces at Lake Taupo and numerous spots in Rotorua also often stage Haka. It is performed by Maori people, the earliest inhabitants of the country and is one of the most famous dances of New Zealand.

Local and national competitions are held for young Maori people, where they can perform in groups. The reverberation from a blowing conch shell sets in as soon as the Maori dancers grace the stage. Their faces will be excessively tattooed and they scream while dancing.

 

All Blacks performing Haka
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The dance consists of dynamic movements like stomping with the feet, striking the chest, jumping high and violently landing back on the floor. The landing creates a thundering noise. They also stick out their tongues and stare at the audience in an attempt to intimidate them.

Poi dance
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The Poi Dance

Another sought after cultural experience and dances of New Zealand is the ‘Poi dance’ was also forged by the Maori people. There is a Hawaiian food item with the name Poi, but the similarities end there. Poi translates to ‘ball tethered on a string’ in Maori. It is mainly performed by women.

They swing Poi rhythmically in circular movements. The very fluid dance steps also involve tough techniques using Poi. The sound of a moving Poi is supposed to replicate the sound produced when a bird flaps its wings. Each Poi dance tries to illustrate a story from the Maori folklore. Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua offers the chance of experiencing the famed Poi dance to its visitors. 
  

fire poi
Source

Poi originated as a drill for conditioning the wrists of the Maori male warriors and the females who practiced weaving. The women decided to exhibit their improved skills from practicing Poi in the form of a dance. It became a symbol for the Maori’s crusade against the Europeans to win back their ancestral land in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

Fans of Poi started to gradually add more elements into it. They tried colouring the poi, attaching light sources like LED(glow poi) and incorporating techniques from certain other art forms like juggling.  The Fire poi performed using fire poi balls is hugely admired worldwide.

Although Poi is said to have been used as a weapon in the olden days, currently Poi dance is considered as a great example of moderate exercise. It has been scientifically proven that a month of consistent practicing of Poi will increase coordination, grip strength and concentration.   

Did we forget to mention anything about the dances of New Zealand? Please comment below.

This post was published by Vishnu Kesavan

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