Kapa haka – or traditional performing arts – is an integral part of Māori culture. Unique and captivating for the way it combines waiata (song) with haka (dance), kapa haka is both an ancient and a living art form.
The Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people have a proud history of performing arts that stretches back to the earliest days of tourism in New Zealand; traditional song and dance has always been a key way to welcome, enchant and enlighten visitors.
Our daily Cultural Performances pay tribute to the legacy of performing arts of our ancestors. Every performance includes emotive and passionate use of the Waiata (songs) of our history, Patere (rhythmic chants), stick games, poi dancing and the world-famous Haka challenge. There’s also the opportunity for our manhuriri (guests) to take part, where you will learn the basics of Māori performing arts as well as expand your Te Reo vocabulary.
All of the Whakarewarewa cultural shows are performed by one of Rotorua’s leading Kapa Haka groups, Te Pakira. Their blend of sweet sound and power is highly skillful, and many of these talented artists have followed in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents as Māori performers. You’ll have the chance to meet and take photos with our performers after the show.
New Zealand has grown up immersed in haka since early encounters between Maori and the early European pioneers, when haka was used as part of the formal process when two parties came together. Haka has been made famous on the world stage from its use by New Zealand sporting teams before important matches; especially the All Blacks, who are renowned for performing the war dance with pride.
These days, haka is used internationally as a symbol of New Zealand identity. The talented performers of Te Pakira bring the haka to life with an intensity and passion here at Whakarewarewa – guests often call this the highlight of the performing arts experience.
Traditionally, the movements, sounds and gestures of kapa haka were used to scare an enemy, or to excite the audience and pull them into the performance. Powerful movements, strong sounds and vivid expressions are iconic of kapa haka, and in the case of war dances like the haka, performers would aim to psychologically intimidate their opponent with pukana (dilated eyes) and whetero (protruding tongues).
It’s the ability to communicate such a huge range of emotions that makes kapa haka a true art form. A performance may start with a softly sung melody, complemented by synchronized poi dance, then suddenly break into a passionate war chant complete with blood curdling screams and growls.
Admission to the daily cultural performances at Whakarewarewa – The Living Māori Village are included in the price of all of our packages.