The New Zealand women’s rugby team showed the world the best way to celebrate a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Or check that, maybe it’s the most traditional way. Native New Zealanders have commemorated victories like this for 1,000 years.
The New Zealand women’s team, known as the “Black Ferns,” knocked off France, Saturday, for a 26-12 golden victory in rugby sevens. After they celebrated their Tokyo Olympics win, the women stepped to the turf and performed a traditional haka dance.
Take a look. The Tokyo Olympic social media account tweeted a video clip of the team’s fantastic post-match performance. If you don’t get chills watching this awesome dance, check your pulse.
2020 Tokyo Olympics Brings Us Best of the World’s Cultures
We love the 2020 Tokyo Olympics because it shows us glimpses of other parts of the world. We love the gutty spirit and heart-felt sportsmanship between athletes. And we love it when those athletes bring their culture to the Games. Obviously, this year’s version of the Olympics is introducing us to Japanese culture and history.
And now, the New Zealand women are showing us their traditions. Both the men’s and women’s teams do a haka dance to celebrate great achievements. Winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics certainly qualifies.
So what is a haka dance? Let’s go to the source. The site NewZealand.com explains the haka:
“The haka is a type of ceremonial Māori dance or challenge. Haka are usually performed in a group and typically represent a display of a tribe’s pride, strength and unity.
“Actions include foot-stamping, tongue protrusions and rhythmic body slapping to accompany a loud chant. The words of a haka often poetically describe ancestors and events in the tribe’s history.”
Maori Are Indigenous People Who Have Lived in New Zealand for Centuries
And who are the Maori? They are the indigenous people of New Zealand who have lived in the country for more than 1,000 years. Legend says the haka started when the Maori god of sun and his wife, who was summer, had a son named Tane-rore. On hot days, Tane-rore danced for his mother. His movements caused the air to shake. And that movement is the base move for a haka.
Warriors danced the haka to prepare for battle. But they also danced it to commemorate peace. The haka is performed to show respect and reverence. Sounds perfect to use as a Tokyo Olympics celebration.
The New Zealand men’s rugby team, called the “All Blacks,” perform the haka before each game. The dance serves to challenge their opponents. Truthfully, it also looks intimidating.
And the dance can be performed by non-Maori. But you always are asked to respect the rich culture and acknowledge the reverence of a dance that’s thrived for a millenium.
Women’s sevens were first included in the 2016 Rio Games. New Zealand lost a heart-breaker to Australia in the gold medal game in Rio. Black Ferns star Portia Woodman said she cried underneath the goalposts in Rio.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics represented a much happier day.
“Not when I look at this!” Woodman exclaimed as she celebrated with her teammates.