Rotorua on its way to giant haka world record


18 May 2017

Rotorua people have just one month to practise their pūkana and get ready to take part in the world’s largest haka.

In just under a month, on 17 June, The International Rugby Club hopes to beat the current Guinness World Record for the largest haka as part of its Rugby Safari following the DHL NZ Lions Tour 2017.

Led by Rotorua Boys’ High School students and national kapa haka champions, more than 6,200 people will perform the famous Ngāti Toa Rangatira haka, Ka Mate, at Rotorua’s Village Green.

The International Rugby Club’s co-founder Tony Molloy says that there is no better place than Rotorua to reclaim the record for the world’s largest haka.

“We were inspired by the fact the record was (and still officially is) held by the French! It needed to be reclaimed by New Zealand and what better place than Rotorua?

“Staging it before the Rotorua game where the Māori All Blacks will face off against The British and Irish Lions just couldn’t be a better setting,” Mr Molloy says.

The official record currently stands at 4,028 participants which was achieved at an event organised by car manufacturer Mazda in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France, in 2014.

The number to beat however is 6,200 which was the number of participants who performed a haka in Masterton last November although their attempt is yet to be officially ratified.

That means almost 10% of Rotorua’s population will need to be at the Village Green at 12 noon on Saturday 17 June.

And to help residents and visitors get to the event, Bay of Plenty Regional Council have offered to make all City Rides bus services free that day. 

Mr Molloy says it’s about welcoming fans, visitors and The British and Irish Lions to Rotorua.

“We want as many Rotorua locals as possible to join the Giant Haka and see it as something they can be part of with a degree of pride in claiming the record on behalf of their town.”

Rotorua Lakes Council Kaitiaki Māori, Te Arawa kaumatua Monty Morrison, says the record attempt is a significant opportunity for the Rotorua community to profile its strong culture on the international stage.

“We want everybody to be a part of this haka and support the Māori All Blacks before the big game, our community together with visitors from around the country and abroad. We want to see the Village Green full to capacity with 10,000 people on the day.

“We acknowledge the history of the haka that will be performed, Ka Mate. It is testament to the ihi and wehi, the power and integrity, of the composer Te Rauparaha and his people, Ngāti Toa Rangatira. ”

In the lead up to the attempt on 17 June The International Rugby Club, with  help from Rotorua Lakes Council, will  encourage local sports teams, organisations and schools to post their haka practise videos on the Giant Haka Facebook page

For more information about the Giant Haka or to watch an instructional video to practise your haka skills go to the Giant Haka’s Facebook page


About Ka Mate

In Te Reo Māori, ‘haka’ is the generic term for a war dance. Traditionally used on the battlefield, haka are a display of a tribe’s mana (pride) and strength.

Ka Mate, the haka that will be performed for the record attempt, is internationally recognised as the iconic challenge performed by the All Blacks before games.

It was composed in  the 17th century by Ngāti Toa Rangatira chief Te Rauparaha, descendent of Hoturoa, captain of the Tainui canoe.

A well-known story within the oral histories of Ngāti Toa Rangatira and Ngāti Tuwharetoa, the two iwi (tribes) most associated with the haka’s origins, Ka Mate helped Te Rauparaha escape the advances of a war party from Ngāti Te Aho.


The words “Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora” translate to ‘Will I die!, Will I live!”, the famous words spelling out the challenge Te Rauparaha faced.


You can find more information about Ka Mate and its origins here.


Ka Mate

Ka mate! Ka mate!

Ka ora! Ka ora!

Ka mate! Ka mate!

Ka ora! Ka ora!

Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru

Nāna nei i tiki mai

Whakawhiti te rā

Upane! ka Upane!

Upane! ka Upane!

Whiti te rā!

Hī !!!


Will I die! Will I die!

Will I live! Will I live!

Will I die! Will I die!

I live! I live!

For it was indeed the power of a woman (te noa)

That fetched the Sun

And caused it to shine again

One upward step! Another upward step!

Further upward! And advance!

Into the sunlight!

Hī !!!

Photo: Rotorua Boys High School students performing a haka

Page reviewed: 18 Nov 2017 8:45pm