The strange randomness of the world beguiled him
July 27, 2015 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Dawson Tamatea was a teacher at the Palmerston North Boys' High School in New Zealand. When Mr. Tamatea's hearse arrived for the memorial service, the entire school performed the Haka for him.
posted by mattdidthat (39 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
That was a send-off...

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posted by jim in austin at 1:02 PM on July 27, 2015


So powerful. Thank you.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:03 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


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there seems to be some sort of dust in the air here…
posted by mumimor at 1:12 PM on July 27, 2015


How do I understand the racial & cultural stuff going on here? On the surface, it seems strange to see a bunch of New Zealanders doing a Maori war dance, but I suspect that there's a lot here I don't get.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:19 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised the hearse didn't turn tail and run, then I realized that there was someone inside performing right back at them.

The students respectfully gave way.

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Thanks for this.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:24 PM on July 27, 2015 [4 favorites]




Here is one by NZ defence forces performing their unit haka for comrades fallen in Afghanistan.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:26 PM on July 27, 2015


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A sad case, but I suspect there's nothing in life not improved with a haka.
posted by Samizdata at 1:28 PM on July 27, 2015


Some student comments on the school's Facebook page here.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:30 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow. I have no idea what it is; every time I ever see a haka performed it hits me really hard.

Going to Maine, a related thread from last year goes into more detail about how the Maori and white cultures in NZ interact with each other, if memory serves.

My stepdad (a kiwi) tried to teach me how to do a haka when I was a lot younger, and I blew it off. That was a mistake.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:32 PM on July 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Going To Maine: "How do I understand the racial & cultural stuff going on here? "

I had a Maori roommate in law school, so that's my general source for this information (and not all Maori will agree with her opinions). The haka is a traditional way of greeting visitors or beginning an interchange between two groups (who may be unknown to each other), so it's not a secret in-group thing but has always been something used with out-groups, which makes it a less-fraught situation than some other culture sharings. New Zealand also has a much different history than most places settled by European imperialist countries -- the Maori were able to successfully hold off European settlers long enough to force them to a sign a treaty in order to permanently settle there. Obviously the treaty was often ignored, but the thread has always been THERE that Maori are a key component of New Zealand culture and society, not just a group of natives to be shoved aside, so there's been more cultural respect and support for Maori traditions and art than in most places. (Again, there were also some pretty bad reservation-type things going on, and residential schools, at some times and in some places, but generally Maoris remained a larger percentage of the population than in other places; they intermarried more freely with Pakeha settlers than in many other places; and their culture wasn't stamped out as in many other places.)

So there are haka that are appropriate and haka that are inappropriate -- the words and gestures have meaning, there are some that are only for men or only for women; only for death or only for war; only for first meetings or only as a gesture of respect for a guest. So there are definitely individual haka dances that would or would not be appropriate.

But my roommate's attitude was, the haka is a gift of the Maori to the people of New Zealand, and that it belongs to the whole of the islands, Maori, Pakeha, mixed, newly arrived, etc., and is an important way to express the history and unity of the nation, and the contributions of the Maori to it. When performed in appropriate ways and at appropriate moments -- at funerals, before sports matches, to welcome visitors -- she loves to see it done even by a group of Pakeha schoolchildren, or recently-arrived immigrants from Asia, or mixed rainbow coalitions of Kiwis, because it shows that respect for the country's unique roots and culture and its debt to the Maori people and their traditions.

But I think the key point there is that it is something that Maori elders chose to share with all the people of New Zealand, as a contribution to the living culture of the country, not something that was appropriated away from them. (And yeah, I talked about it quite a bit in that previous thread.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:41 PM on July 27, 2015 [110 favorites]


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posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:46 PM on July 27, 2015


I don't understand why I have tears. I really don't but I really do.
posted by damnitkage at 1:54 PM on July 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


That's just so lovely. It's amazing how moving I find it, even though I basically know zero about the tradition, the language or Maori culture. The power radiates through all those barriers quite easily.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:58 PM on July 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


I often find myself at a loss for how to describe or even think about what the performance of a non-toxic masculinity would look like.

But I think maybe the haka would be a good place to start.
posted by Sokka shot first at 2:05 PM on July 27, 2015 [19 favorites]


After all of those years of doing band things and theater things and drills, I get verklempt just about any time I see a large group doing something really well together with precision. I appreciate what it takes.

Add in the emotion of loss and a truly powerful haka, and I am a blubbering mess. That was pretty spectacular, thank you.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 2:13 PM on July 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


Part of the power, to me, seems like the channeling of all of that intense energy into one thing that feels constructive. Like...we may all be mourning and grieving but for one moment we'll do it in a collective outpouring that is also a gesture of respect, or something.

So. Powerful.
posted by mynameisluka at 2:20 PM on July 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


The New Zealand Army mass haka was hugely powerful, I think this one is more so because it's PNBHS, I expect discipline and unity from the army, but a boys high school? To get a mass of posturing, surly adolescent masculinity to produce that beautiful haka, it's a massive gesture of respect to the mana of Mr Tamatea and I think any teacher would be pretty proud to have that as their send off.
posted by fido~depravo at 2:42 PM on July 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


Respect.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:11 PM on July 27, 2015


Dawson Tamatea was one of the organisers of the PNBHS kapa haka group, so it's quite likely that he was the one to teach that haka to (some of) the students.
posted by Paragon at 3:42 PM on July 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


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posted by Oyéah at 3:52 PM on July 27, 2015


a Maori war dance

I claim no expertise (my father was a pākehā - that's my only connection), but the first thing is to not think of a haka as just a war dance. Obviously in many situations that's the best description for it, but it is a ceremonial action.
posted by wilful at 4:02 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay, crying now. How moving.
posted by rtha at 4:08 PM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


How do I understand the racial & cultural stuff going on here? On the surface, it seems strange to see a bunch of New Zealanders doing a Maori war dance, but I suspect that there's a lot here I don't get.

I substantially agree with what Eyebrows McGee says - it's seen as something that belongs to us, wherever we're from. I'd also be careful about guessing the background of the boys in the video - a lot of them would have Maori ancestry even if they look white, and might identify with the culture.

Some more background: many schools in NZ would have their own haka, with words that are meaningful to them. I probably wouldn't read this as appropriation, but if done badly it might look more like tokenism. My own school had a haka that was quite well-performed when I first joined, but by the time I was a senior student it was very poorly led, we didn't have proper instruction and neither the words nor the gestures were performed well. There's certainly much better leadership in this PNBHS haka.

Equally, the haka performed by the NZ rugby team is now spine-chilling, but was somewhat less so in the 1920s. The first is a serious attempt at developing a unique, shared ritual for the team; the second looks much more like appropriation to me.
posted by Pink Frost at 5:43 PM on July 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


Tears here. That was very moving.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:14 PM on July 27, 2015


There's something about the utter silence as everyone slowly and respectfully backs away that chokes me up hugely. Powerful stuff.

Also, that is a REALLY nice old Packard hearse. Dude went in style.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:16 PM on July 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


But I think the key point there is that it is something that Maori elders chose to share with all the people of New Zealand, as a contribution to the living culture of the country, not something that was appropriated away from them.

If only that was the normal guideline for cultural borrowings -- that is so much better than the more purely extractive kinds of appropriation.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:28 PM on July 27, 2015


Wow. That was incredible.

Just leaving this here: the NZ Wheel Blacks, performing the Haka.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:57 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


This makes me proud to be a New Zealander. So very proud.
posted by vac2003 at 1:45 AM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Such an amazing sign of respect.
posted by h00py at 5:42 AM on July 28, 2015


When I was in high school, the music teacher (we called him Blue Rinse) taught the whole school (about 1200 pupils), including the school orchestra, to perform Handel's Messiah. It was presented to the assembled masses one morning at assembly.

It was awesomeness!!!

Rather like white noise performed by a hundred punk bands.

The singers admitted to the orchestra that we were just following them, and the orchestra admitted they had no idea what they were playing.

Blue Rinse never asked us to do that again. We also didn't perform a haka for him.
posted by arzakh at 5:57 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


"If only that was the normal guideline for cultural borrowings"

Most cultures don't have some sort of "elders" who can give permission. Did you ever get permission to use chopsticks? Or a poncho? Now, this is obviously different since it's an actual ceremony but my point is that the concept of "permission" is kinda hard to comprehend since who do you seek permission from? I figure that respect and acknowledgement might just be a better guideline.
posted by I-baLL at 7:47 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Watching the Haka being performed always gives me chills, whether it's by the All Blacks or these young men.
posted by tommasz at 7:57 AM on July 28, 2015


I attended a boys' school educational conference in New Zealand one year and the boys performed a haka for the visitors in a greeting that was very impressive. Even more impressive was the closing haka, when a bunch of uniformed (button-down shirts, ties) high school boys wandered onto the stage, diffident and self-conscious as they always are on stage, and then abruptly transformed.
posted by Peach at 8:11 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can anyone tell what sort of haka this was? Ws it the school one or one more specifically for funerary processions etc? It seemed to have a quite "challenging" tone, so perhaps the school/sport one? Like everyone else said, the haka blows me away, and I have a fully visceral reaction to the ones I have seen. Must check out some of the other types you mentioned, a welcoming of visitors or by women. The thing about it being used inclusively also has me a bit weepy, that's great.
posted by Iteki at 8:33 AM on July 28, 2015


Chills and tears. Truly moving.

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posted by mule98J at 9:49 AM on July 28, 2015


I love hakas so much. This one is so awe-inspiring. The silence, the adolescent posturing, everything. So amazing.
posted by St. Hubbins at 10:13 AM on July 28, 2015


Bagpipes and hakas really get to me.

I love this.
posted by ReluctantViking at 4:44 PM on July 28, 2015


Can anyone tell what sort of haka this was? Ws it the school one or one more specifically for funerary processions etc?

I'd guess the school one, which is mentioned here. Mr Tamatea was involved in teaching of tikanga Maori (custom/protocol) at the school.
posted by Pink Frost at 5:47 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


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