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Need for a Masculine Protocal

Balance: The Hawaiian concept of dualism essentially refers to the idea that creation is organized in pairs of opposites: light and darkness, good and evil, left and right, male and female, masculine and feminine (Kū and Hina), etc. That between each paired opposite is a constant gravity pulling in each direction.  A state of pono is achieved when there is balance and harmony between the two polar opposites.  A state of pono will bring happiness and prosperity to the ʻĀina, the individual, community, and Lāhui.

Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono

Hawai‘i and its people are recognized the world over for the Aloha Spirit, and for being the home of Hula (a feminine trait and protocol)  However, Hawai‘i was once a warrior society with a very masculine culture.  With a history of cultural transformation, overthrow, disenfranchisement, oppression, subsequent cultural and historical trauma, and organized efforts to suppress our Warrior Spirit, we now find ourselves and Lāhui out of balance with high feminine (Hina) mana and relatively low masculine (Kū) mana.  

Practice of the Ha‘akoa will help restore balance to the culture and Lāhui by enhancing the masculine mana of our kāne .  Ha‘akoa are important cultural protocols that celebrate Hawaii’s proud warrior heritage and the virtues of strength and honor.  A protocol that can be used to unify and empower kānaka to take on a difficult task; honor an esteemed individual, place, or event; or advocate for a pono cause.  A protocol that can benefit the Lāhui in many different ways and at many different levels, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Need for a Masculine Protocol: Created in 1820, Ka Mate is recognized as the foremost Haka in Aotearoa.  The Haka is recognized by the Maori as a traditional pre-battle protocol.  The tremendous popularity and growth of Ka Mate, is not only a Polynesian phenomenon, but recognized and practiced in different countries around the world.  Hawaii’s embrace of the Haka reflects this phenomenon and the continued renaissance in things Hawaiian, and in the alternative, things Polynesian.  A prime example here is the University of Hawai‘i Warriors football team.  In 2006, the Warriors began to perform Ka Mate before its football games.  However, this proved controversial on many levels, consequently, in 2007 team representatives announced that that it would drop the Maori Haka in favor of a Hawaiian Ha‘a.  However, the new Ha‘a met with mixed revues as not being truly Hawaiian and by 2010 the team was once again using a Maori Haka prior to its games.  The UH football team has struggled in its attempts to develop a truly Hawaiian Ha‘a but, continues to press forward with its most recent interpretation that was shared in 2016 (see below).

 UH Football Ha'akoa 

However, the need for a strong masculine protocol became evident much earlier with the early voyages of the Hōkūleʻa beginning in 1976.  On arriving at different South Pacific islands, Hōkūleʻa crew members were greeted with haka and haka type protocols.  However, crew members had no appropriate strong masculine response and at times responded with hula.  A common question from our Polynesian cousins at this time were, “where are your warriors?”, “where are your haka?”  In time Hōkūleʻa crews created their own Hawaiian Haka or Ha‘a to share as needed (see below).

 Hōkūleʻa Haʻa 

During this same period (mid 1970s), the practice of lua (Hawaiian martial arts) was making a public emergence with the hui Paku‘i a Lua.  The practitioners at this time wanted to incorporate a strong masculine protocol as part of their practices, however, there were no such protocols known at that time.  As such, the hui created their own Hawaiian Haka that included Marquesas words and movements (see below).

 Lua Haka 

(Begining at 1:40 on tape)

 Marquesas Haka 

Early works to create a masculine Hawaiian protocol that would reflect the energy and intent of the Maori Haka have received mixed reviews from the community and especially cultural purist who believe such a protocol must be culturally competent, that is, uniquely Hawaiian in language, movement and ‘ike.  As such the Hawaiian Haka or Ha‘a continues to be a controversial subject.

Summary: Our kāne required a strong masculine protocol, but it did not exist.  As such, we were forced to borrow from our Maori cousins and use their Haka; others attempted to Hawaiianize the Haka by using Hawaiian words and relabel it a Haa; while others attempted to create something Hawaiian with varying degrees of cultural competency.

The ongoing issue here is one of resources, to create a Ha
akoa with cultural competence and integrity requires resources.  These resources include, but are not limited to, expertise in Hawaiian language and culture, hula, haa, and lua.  Unfortunately, most of the Haakoa practiced today fall short in one or more of these areas.


As such, for many, the masculine cultural gold standard continues to be the Maori Haka.  

 Maori Haka 

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