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Create your Own Ha'akoa for your 'Ohana, Organization, and Community.



















Today's Haʻakoa are cultural innovations, that in time may be recognized as traditional cultural protocols.  As such, it is extremely important that Haʻakoa developed today are done in a culturally competent manner.  Accordingly, the following guidelines have been developed to assist those who would like to haku their own Haʻakoa for their ʻohana, hui, and communities.

Oli  Words must be ʻōlelo Hawai‘i.  As such, it would generally be safe to use a traditionally known and used oli/mele for a Haʻakoa. However, new oli/mele may be created as long as ʻōlelo Hawai‘i is accurate and appropriate.  Note:  If you are considering using a word that is not in Puku's Hawaiian Dictionary, we would discourage such use.  Having said this, we realize that cultures evolve as does the language, so this needs to be taken into consideration as well.  Lastly, be conscientious of and follow appropriate enunciation and diction in oli/mele.  

Motions  Use recognized and accepted movements from Lua and Hula kahiko.  However, as part of the natural evolution of any cultural protocol such as the haʻakoa, new non Lua and Hula movements may be implemented, but such must look and feel Hawaiian.

Complexity  Though hula kahiko movements are abundant they can also be complex and difficult to learn.  It is recommended that you keep your haʻakoa basic and simple to learn so that more time and energy can be focused on facial expressions and building and displaying mana.

Eye Contact  Appropriate eye and facial expressions including proper demeanor.

Precision  It is important that everyone is doing the same movements at the same time.  However, this is not a Merrie Monarch performance where precise precision and unison is required.  On the contrary, some facial expressions and motions may be personalized while keeping the overall presentation cohesive.

Formations  Various forms may be used depending on the available space, this may include lines and traditional fighting formations such as the "V" wedge and crescent shape moon.

Mea Kaua  Traditional weapons may be used, but movements must be authentic and appropriate to the weapons used.

Instruments  Musical implement may be used but must be kahiko (ancient) type, e.g., pahu, ipu, etc.  However, haʻakoa should NOT be created around musical instruments including beat keeping instruments e.g., pahu.  The idea here is that one or many individuals should be able to do a Haʻakoa at a moments notice with no required instruments.


Kumu  Unlike a hula presentation, a kumu is not required.  Haʻakoa should be shared as needed when needed including spontaneously.  No kumu, accessories, implements, or special clothing are needed or required to do a haʻakoa.

Attire  This depends on the situation and circumstances, this may include a suit with tie, casual attire, malo and being bare back, or a combination of all of these.

Integration  Words, motions, and use of weapons must be integrated and relevant.  However, motions and words do not have to reflect each other as found in hula.  See ʻOhana.

Time  It is recommended that your ha
ʻakoa proper be 30 to 60 seconds, introductions my be added to this time.

Wāhine  Our warrior history is filled with wāhine warriors, fighting in wāhine battle groups, or fighting along side their fathers, husbands and brothers.  Since wāhine where warriors like the kāne, wāhine are not only welcomed, but encouraged, to learn and share the Haʻakoa with the kāne, same words, same motions, same energy, same mana.

No negative oli.  Your Ha‘koa should be positive and focus on unifying and empowering, and not about disrespecting another entity.


  • No negative or degrading gestures.

  • No sticking tongue out, this is a common Maori Haka gesture (pukana), but it is not a Hawaiian one.  Protruding tongue is not found in kahiko hula and it is not found in ancient Hawaiian art forms. Many ancient Hawaiian tiki have open mouths that show the tongue, but the tongue is never protruding out of the mouth.  

  • Do not use words or phrases that are not recognized as Hawaiian.  Do not use words that are not found in a recognized Hawaiian dictionary such as the Mary Kawena Pukui & Samuel Elbert Hawaiian Dictionary (1986).  

  • Do not use motions that are not recognized as Hawaiian. 

  • Do not simply follow what other innovators have done.  Insure that whatever you create, incorporate, and perpetuate is culturally competent, i.e, uniquely Hawaiian in look, feel, sound, and ʻike (Hawaiian perspective of awareness, knowledge, understanding, and comprehension).

  • Note:  Every culture evolves, including its protocols, such as the Ha‘koa.  However, as practitioners, it is our kuleana to kahu its evolution with cultural integrity for current and future generations. 

  • Note:  The pa‘i, (slap) of thighs and chest associated with the Maori Haka is a recognized Hawaiian dance form and is appropriate for Ha‘akoa. 

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