New Zealand is my place of birth. Even though I have lived in Australia for 36 more years than I lived in New Zealand, I still identify strongly as a New Zealander or Kiwi, as we are known. Besides my extended family, the thing I miss the most about NZ is the music – or more especially the music that comes from the Maori culture, which consists of waiata (song) and haka (dance). The native Kiwi’s love to sing. If there is a party, you can be sure there will be a guitar produced and a singalong will take place. There is also a strong Pacific Island influence in my home city of Auckland and they too love to sing, especially in their churches. Singing was a natural part of my school life growing up. At break times, you could always find someone somewhere performing. This just does not happen in Australia and I really miss it.
As the Rio Olympics approach, the world may get to see a New Zealand Haka being performed. The Haka is probably most often recognised from it’s use by one of the greatest sporting teams in history, the New Zealand All Blacks, but it is performed at many other times in NZ life. It can be a challenge, a sign of respect, a welcome, a response, a war dance, a celebration and I’m sure many other things.
The clip I have chosen to feature, shows two High Schools, with a rich history of sporting competition going back 202 games of rugby. The Haka is performed as a challenge before the game. Although this is a spine tingling performance, it is not an unusual occurrence – it happens at most if not all schools, to a greater or lesser degree.
The waiata I have chosen to share is the New Zealand Olympic Team supporters song. It is a great example of the beautiful harmonies and the cross over of traditional and modern music.
So the music and the culture of New Zealand continues to burn strong in my heart.