An activity to teach the Māori ceremonial dance, the Haka.
You will need
- A video of the haka being performed and some way of showing this to your young people.
Before you start
A video of the haka and some background information from the New Zealand tourism board can be found online.
Discover the Haka
- Show the young people a video of a haka being performed. Explain its significance for welcoming guests, scaring their enemies or celebrating big achievements and occasions.
- Explain the differences in types of haka and their purposes and differences. All hakas were traditionally used when greeting other groups of people, be that in friendship or war.
- The words of the haka describe the history of their tribe and the actions of the ancestors who went before them. It’s their story and they are proud of it.
- The actions were originally designed to be scary – sticking out their tongues, slapping their body in time, pulling scary faces and showing their strength.
Create their own dance inspired by the haka
- Split into smaller groups and give them time to devise their own dance. Try to make it show what they are feeling when at Beavers through their body movements. If they want to make up words to go along with it, what could they say about their time at Beavers or where they live?
- After enough time to practice, ask each group to perform their dance for the others.
- Ask the young people how they felt whilst performing their dance and what they thought whilst watching the other groups.
When we think of other countries we think of food, language and celebrations. Because we don’t really have a very English dance we forget that some other cultures do – New Zealand is very famous for it! Do you think the haka has changed over time? Can you think of anything in our culture that has changed over time too?
There are millions of Scouts all over the world and despite coming from different cultures we are united by the Scout promise and our values to help others. What would we tell Scouts from other countries about us? What would we show them from the UK?
The haka is a firm part of the culture and traditions of the Māori people. It is important that we respect the culture and traditions behind the dance and learn the significance of the movements and words. Those from non-Māori backgrounds are welcome to perform the haka as long as they understand and respect this.
All activities in the Scouts should be risk assessed, following the Scout rules. If their dance is particularly energetic, perform a warm up and cool down together to get their bodies ready. The area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules clearly and have a clear way to communicate when the activity must stop when needed.
Change the level of challenge
Because the Beavers are coming up with their own dances it is quite easy for them to change how challenging they want the activity to be. To make it simpler they can focus on the movements including some simpler dance moves. Those looking for more challenge can include the words and making sounds with their body too.
Make it accessible
Simplify the steps and movements for anyone mobility-impaired or easily distracted. As the dances are inspired by our young people, they can go as far as they are able in their moves – an adult may be needed to ensure everyone in the group is included.
Have a safe space set up for anyone with sensory differences who may wish to step away from the activity for a while.
Youth Shaped guidance
The dance moves and the story behind the dance is being inspired by our young people and their experience in Scouts.
This activity has been created by Alison Osborn, Scout Network member with Pegasus Scout Network and Skills Instructor with Stanley’s Own Scout and Guide Band as part of her King’s Scout Award.
Outcome: Learn more about other cultures around the world
Time: 20-30 minutes
Suitable for: Beavers