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Posted on: October 1, 2018 at 1:54 pm

If you walked into an auditorium of teenage boys stomping, yelling and heavily breathing, you might be tempted to make a 180-degree turn and walk right back out. But not so fast… At Palmerston North Boys’ High School, what you would have witnessed is called “haka,” a traditional wary cry, war dance, or challenge performed by the Māori, an indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand.

More popularly, you can see the haka performing by the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team. However, it’s actually a deep-rooted and significant part of their history and culture. There are various hakas used by many Māori tribes, but they are always used for two reasons: [1]

  1. To frighten and intimidate their enemies – they would beat and wave their weapons as well as grunt, let out cries, make their eyes bulge, and poke out their tongues
  2. To increase morale – according to Māori tradition, they would use hakas to call upon the god of war to help them come out of battles victorious

Although tribal warfare isn’t as common as it used to be, the meaning of haka has morphed but not weakened. The Māori perform hakas at sporting events, weddings, funerals, and festivals. And, in the video that we’re sharing with you today, students at Palmerston North Boys’ High School performed the haka to show respect for and bid farewell to Mr. John Adams, a retiring teacher.

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Along with the farewell haka, Mr. Adams also received an Academic Stole, an award which recognizes “teachers who have had an unwavering focus on academic achievement throughout their careers” and, specifically, “for the very significant impact [Mr. Adams] has had on our school over the last thirty years.”

3 Benefits of Having Traditions for Children and Youth

Watching a building full of teenage boys completely in sync and full of passion is amazing. But things like haka aren’t just one-off dances they perform and then forget. You can really sense the community and comradery between these young men and part of the reason why is because traditions are beneficial. [2,3]

1) Traditions teach what’s most important in life

In a world full of unending distractions, it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters – and that’s family. Even though those high school students aren’t all directly related, the tradition of haka bridges that gap and creates a new family. Because traditions are shared, they allow people to bond, grow closer together, and ultimately create lifelong friendships.

2) Traditions provide a source of identity

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No matter where you look, youth are bombarded with how to look, act, and live their lives. Traditions are often rooted in family history and can teach kids about their roots or heritage. They can remind children that they are part of something that is bigger than themselves. While that can make someone feel small, there’s also a chance that it will help them realize they can contribute to and be part of something amazing.

3) Traditions connect generations

Nowadays, families have to be extremely intentional about making sure children and their aunts, uncles, and grandparents have healthy relationships. Large age gaps should never be a barrier in forming intergenerational bonds between young and not-so-young people. Maybe this Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner you should abolish the “Kids’ Table” and truly have a family dinner.

Plus, Dr. Steven Wolin, a psychiatrist at George Washington University, and others believe that traditions – family or otherwise – can greatly benefit family members or all ages. Especially children and youth.

“If you grow up in a family with strong rituals,” says Dr. Wolin, [4] “you’re more likely to be resilient as an adult.”

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[1] The Haka: What it Means & Why it is Performed. (2018, September 13). Retrieved from https://hakatours.com/blog/haka-meaning/

[2] The Benefits of Family Traditions. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.creativechild.com/articles/view/the-benefits-of-family-traditions

[3] McKay, K. (2018, May 27). The Importance of Establishing Family Traditions: Creating a Positive Family Culture. Retrieved from https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/creating-a-positive-family-culture-the-importance-of-establishing-family-traditions/

[4] Goleman, D. (1992, March 11). Family Rituals May Promote Better Emotional Adjustment. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/11/news/family-rituals-may-promote-better-emotional-adjustment.html

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