Why people are finding this teen’s haka send-off at the airport particularly moving
If there’s one thing people around the world associate with Māori culture, it’s the haka. We’ve seen the traditional dancing and chanting before international sports matchups and in viral videos from wedding parties to tiny toddlers.
Haka originated as a way to prepare warriors for battle, but it has also been performed as a custom when groups came together in peace. Today, in addition to symbolizing a challenge to a sports opponent, haka is used to honor people and show the importance of an occasion.
In New Zealand, it’s not uncommon to see haka performed at airports, as people send off or welcome home loved ones. But one airport haka has people feeling particularly moved.
In a video shared by @curlyheadnikau on TikTok, a young man who is heading off to the U.S. for school, having received a basketball scholarship to Utah, stands opposite a group of young men who honor him with the haka. “Send off for the big cuzzy,” reads the caption.
What’s particularly notable in this haka video is that all of the participants appear to be youth—no obvious elders among them—which sends a strong signal of a culture being successfully passed down from one generation to the next.
send off for the big cuzzy good luck over in the us 💯 @tuhi2x #fyp #nz #haka #foryou #us #foryou
Upworthy posted the video on our Instagram page, and people are sharing how moved they are by it.
“I love how they transform from modern teens to timeless warriors, in spirit with their ancestors. So incredibly moving and significant,” wrote one person.
“The release of emotion in Haka makes me cry!” wrote another. “So beautiful, healthy and moving.”
“It’s so moving to see non-toxic demonstrations of strong masculinity. This is how it’s done,” shared a third.
Several people shared this sentiment:
“I can never watch this incredible ritual without tearing up. This is pure magic!!!!”
Seeing these guys in their T-shirts and Nikes put their all into the haka is so powerful. Knowing how many indigenous cultures have had their traditions stripped away, with many being lost altogether, makes this video all the more moving.
The New Zealand tourism website shares a bit about the origins of the haka:
“The Māori legend describing the origin of the haka paints it as a celebration of life. The story goes that Tama-nui-te-ra, the sun god, and his wife Hine-Raumati, who embodies summer, had a son named Tane-rore. On hot summer days, Tane-rore would dance for his mother, causing the air to quiver. This light, rapid movement was the foundation of all haka.”
The Māori people have inhabited the islands of New Zealand for more than 700 years, their ancestors having arrived by boat from Polynesia around 1300 A.D. The population declined following British colonization and hit a low point in the early 20th century, but thanks to the influence of key Māori leaders, the country changed. Today, the Māori people play a significant role in New Zealand society and government.
With young people like this carrying on the traditions of their ancestors, this beautiful nation’s cultural diversity will be preserved for generations to come.
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