Story: Kapa Haka

War dance, 1844

War dance, 1844

This George French Angas painting of a haka at Ōhinemutu, on the shore of Lake Rotorua, is based on an 1844 drawing by Joseph Merrett. It shows a group of naked warriors raising traditional weapons in a classic haka posture. These haka developed co-ordination and fitness, and prepared warriors psychologically for imminent battle. However, European observers such as Merrett were often appalled by the ferocious and unfamiliar actions of the haka. 

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: D-010-001
Artwork by George French Angas

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Valance Smith, 'Kapa Haka - What is kapa haka?', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 19 May 2022)

Story by Valance Smith, published 22 Oct 2014