Highlanders’ Haka: Hautoa Kia Toa 

The haka was performed by the team before the opening match of the Sky Super Rugby competition in Dunedin on Friday night, at the Highlanders home base Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Head Coach Tony Brown (Kāi Tahu) said “the haka is a unique representation of who we are, the region we belong to and play for. It’s something we have wanted to do for a while and we are delighted with the result. It has real meaning to the team and we were proud to perform it for the first time at home in front of our own people  at the opening match of Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021.”

Hautoa Kia Toa is a haka born from the whakapapa (genealogy), whenua (landscapes), moana (seas) and mita (dialect) of the Kāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe and Waitaha whanau whānui (peoples) who are the kaitiaki (spiritual and physical guardians) of the mana (integrity) of where the Highlanders call home.

The haka represents the strengths and intelligence of our Kāi Tahu peoples in battle and warfare. It draws a parallel to the Highlanders’ ethos and invites fearlessness, bravery and camaraderie in the heat of the battle.

The haka built on the relationship between the Highlanders and Te Koronga based at the University of Otago and was initiated following a discussion with Waiariki Parata-Taiapa (Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Hine) who is a homegrown Kāi Tahu member who has served his whānau (family), hapū (sub-tribe) and iwi (tribe) in relation to Te Reo, tikanga and haka amongst many other talents. Thus, the collaboration set about creating a haka that was authentically Kāi Tahu (one of the principal tribes of the Otago/Southland region) centric, built for the purpose of the Highlanders.

This haka was written by Waiariki Parata-Taiapa in collaboration with Mr Danny Poa (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu) and Associate Professor Anne-Marie Jackson (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu o Whangaroa) from the University of Otago, Te Koronga, School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.


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