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This is why the rituals of the tattooed Maori Warriors live on

New Zealand's national rugby team – as well as a lot of other New Zealanders – perform a foot-stomping, tongue lashing, rhythmic battlefield dance before every match.

The dance, called the Haka, is a group war cry dance, originally used by the native Maoris of New Zealand.


Maoris were descended from Eastern Polynesians who canoed all the way from Polynesia to what we now call New Zealand in the 13th century. That's a distance of at least 900 miles.

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A warrior culture soon emerged among the Maori and they developed a number of societal traits, namely the moko tattoos, which convey information about the wearer's genealogy, tribal affiliations, status, and achievements.

But it can be a pre-battle challenge to opponents.

Moko are drawn by a Tohunga ta moko – a Maori tattoo expert – during a process that is considered a sacred ritual. Men wear their moko on their faces, buttocks, thighs, and arms and women wear them on the chin and lips. They are also applied with a sort of chisel, which give the Maori tattoo textured into the skin.

Maori warriors perform a Powhiri haka, a traditional welcoming ceremony for Airmen who just arrived at Christchurch, New Zealand.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

Haka, the aforementioned battlefield dance, is still performed to this day. But it's not just a war dance. It is used to welcome special guests and celebrating an achievement. Women as well as men can take part in the dance.

The storied history of the Maori warrior goes well beyond tribal dances and tattoos. Catch the first episode of We Are The Mighty's "Elite Forces" featuring the Maori Warriors.

Watch more Elite Forces on We Are The Mighty's YouTube channel!