Rotorua, New Zealand’s oldest tourism destination and home to Te Puia l New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, has been recognised for many years as the heart of Māori culture.
Now the city is also the home of the world’s largest haka, after taking on the Guinness World Record on Saturday 17 June. The world record attempt coincided with the British & Irish Lions playing a select Māori All Blacks side that night.
Led by NZMACI general manager Eraia Kiel, alongside haka legend Wetini Mitai-Ngātai and local high schools, the crowd swelled to around 7800 on the shores of Lake Rotorua, igniting the air with the world-famous 'Ka Mate, Ka Mate' chant.
"It was awesome to see people from different sides of the globe come together, and to stand together as one,” says Eraia.
“It was an uplifting experience ahead of the big game, and having the honour to stand on the stage and look at the swell of the crowd, all proud to be there, was heartwarming, regardless of whether we took out the Guinness World Record or not.”
Locals as well as visiting fans performed the famed Ngāti Toa Rangatira haka, Ka Mate. The number of haka participants represented more than 10% of Rotorua’s entire population (pop: 65,000).
Evidence of the attempt will now be presented to Guinness World Records, which can take up to 15 weeks to confirm the record.
The official record currently stands at 4028 participants, achieved at an event organised by car manufacturer Mazda in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France, in 2014. However, the number to beat was 6200, from a haka last year in Masterton (also in New Zealand), although their attempt has not been officially recognised.
Experience the haka at Te Puia
Looking to experience a traditional Māori haka? Visit Te Puia and Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, the centre of Māori art and culture in New Zealand and home to the world-famous Pōhutu Geyser.
At Te Puia our concerts and cultural performances will not just move and entertain you, but enable you to ‘get inside’ our fascinating culture. Surrounded by the beautiful carvings of our ancestors, you will experience entertaining stories told through song and dance, with plenty of surprises thrown in.
ABOUT: Māori haka
The haka is an ancient posture dance of the Māori people, that was traditionally used to prepare a war party for battle. It was performed either on the battle field prior to engagement with the enemy, or as the war party was leaving their own village en route to a battle.
The ferocious nature of the haka created a united frenzy among the war party, preparing them mentally and physically for the reality of war and impending conflict.Learn more about breaking the haka record