Wedding Haka Awakens The Heart Of The Internet
The viral video of a performance of the traditional Maori war dance the haka at a wedding in Auckland, New Zealand, has moved the internet to tears.
The haka is more usually seen on the rugby field performed by the New Zealand All-Blacks. The haka is always high octane in emotion, but on the football field the haka is performed to intimidate the opposition. Not as widely known though, is that that haka is also performed at weddings and funerals and other group events. This particular haka was a surprise for the couple, announced by the best man and brother of the groom Joel Armstrong, with a simple “We have something for you.”
This emotional Maori wedding haka has been watched 15 million times https://t.co/O3yQaXQWpB
— The Independent (@Independent) January 22, 2016
Something for you indeed. Thirty-two million views at time of publishing, and this one flash haka has given the entire internet a chronic case of goosebumps.
The happy couple Ben and Aaliyah Armstrong were wed on January 15 at the Hamilton New Zealand Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was after the speeches at the reception that the guests surprised the newly weds with a rousing performance of the Tika Tonu haka, which is the most commonly performed version of the haka taught in schools all across New Zealand.
The video shows the couple overwhelmed with emotion when the guests first stand up to perform the haka. When the haka reaches fever pitch and even Aaliyah’s bridesmaid joins in, newly wed Aaliyah tells CNN that that was the moment they decided to join in the haka as well. They couldn’t just stand by and watch. “For us, we wanted to show our love and respect back,” she says. “(It’s) such an honor to have these amazing men and this amazing woman in my life show their love for us like this.”
— bitesz.com (@biteszHQ2) January 22, 2016
The video ends with the couple embracing the guests who performed the haka. In a touching moment, the groomsman ‘hongi’ the leader of the haka Joel Armstrong and another guest, which is the cultural greeting of touching noses and foreheads.
Responses all around the world to the impromptu wedding haka have ranged from wonder and awe from the uninitiated, to pride from Islanders and New Zealanders for their strong cultural traditions.
The video has the internet fired up with curiosity and questions about the cultural tradition of the haka. Ben told Today News that he was very happy that his wedding haka had stirred such interest. “People from around the world, including the United States, who didn’t know about the haka have decided to learn more about the New Zealand culture, as well as the haka itself and what it means. It’s just been choice.”
One Facebook user Jenaire King was moved to viscerally describe the energetic spirituality behind the haka as “Ataahua. The highest honour that can be shown, giving all of ones energy and very soul like this, and the bride and groom’s response lifts and elevates the haka to another level so that none who see and hear it can doubt the sincerity of the offering and the receiving. For more than anything it is felt with the heart, felt through your very veins, and then the stillness, and the breath, shared as they hongi and embrace displays the aroha, gratitude and respect they have for one another.”
Watch the full haka here. Grab some tissues. Feel that stirring in your chest? That’s you, remembering your humanity. The haka has done its job. You’re welcome.
[AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth]