Rotorua people have just one month to practise their pukana and get ready to take part in a world record haka attempt.

On June 17, hours before the Maori All Blacks take on the British and Irish Lions in Rotorua, the International Rugby Club hopes to beat the Guinness World Record for the largest haka as part of its Rugby Safari following the Lions tour.

Led by Rotorua Boys' High School students and national kapa haka champions, more than 6200 people will perform the famous Ngati Toa Rangatira haka, Ka Mate, at Rotorua's Village Green.

Rotorua Boys' High School students will help lead the haka record attempt. Photo / Stephen Parker
Rotorua Boys' High School students will help lead the haka record attempt. Photo / Stephen Parker

To launch the world record attempt an unsuspecting crowd at tonight's market was treated to a flash mob haka. Phones and cameras were quickly pulled out as about 40 Rotorua Boys' High students performed the Ka Mate haka.

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International Rugby Club co-founder Tony Molloy said there was no better place than Rotorua to reclaim the record for the world's largest haka.

"We were inspired by the fact the record was (and still officially is) held by the French. It needed to be reclaimed by New Zealand and what better place than Rotorua?

"Staging it before the Rotorua game where the Maori All Blacks will face off against the British and Irish Lions just couldn't be a better setting," Molloy said.

The official record stands at 4028 participants and was set at an event organised by car manufacturer Mazda in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France, in 2014.

The number to beat, however, is 6200, which was how many people who did a haka in Masterton last November - although their attempt is yet to be officially ratified.

Rotorua Boys' High School students will help lead the haka record attempt. Photo / Stephen Parker
Rotorua Boys' High School students will help lead the haka record attempt. Photo / Stephen Parker

That means almost 10 per cent of Rotorua's population will need to be at the Village Green at noon on Saturday, June 17.

To help residents and visitors get to the event, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has offered to make all City Rides bus services free that day.

Molloy said it was about welcoming fans, visitors and the British and Irish Lions to Rotorua.

"We want as many Rotorua locals as possible to join the giant haka and see it as something they can be part of with a degree of pride in claiming the record on behalf of their town."

Rotorua Lakes Council Kaitiaki Maori and Te Arawa kaumatua Monty Morrison said the record attempt was a significant opportunity for the Rotorua community to profile its strong culture on the international stage.

"We want everybody to be a part of this haka and support the Maori All Blacks before the big game. We want to see the Village Green full to capacity with 10,000 people on the day.

"We acknowledge the history of the haka that will be performed, Ka Mate. It is testament to the ihi and wehi, the power and integrity, of the composer Te Rauparaha and his people, Ngati Toa Rangatira."

In the lead-up the International Rugby Club, with help from the Rotorua Lakes Council, will encourage local sports teams, organisations and schools to post their haka practice videos on the Giant Haka Facebook page.

For more information or to watch an instructional video to practise your haka skills go to the Giant Haka's Facebook page.

About Ka Mate

In Te Reo Maori, "haka" is the generic term for a war dance. Traditionally used on the battlefield, haka are a display of a tribe's mana and strength.

Ka Mate, the haka that will be performed for the record attempt, is internationally recognised as the iconic challenge performed by the All Blacks before games.

It was composed in the 17th century by Ngati Toa Rangatira chief Te Rauparaha, descendent of Hoturoa, captain of the Tainui canoe.

A well-known story within the oral histories of Ngati Toa Rangatira and Ngati Tuwharetoa, the two iwi most associated with the haka's origins, Ka Mate helped Te Rauparaha escape the advances of a war party from Ngati Te Aho.

The words "Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora" translate to 'Will I die!, Will I live!", the famous words spelling out the challenge Te Rauparaha faced.

Ka Mate

Ka mate! Ka mate!
Ka ora! Ka ora!
Ka mate! Ka mate!
Ka ora! Ka ora!
Tenei te tangata puhuruhuru
Nana nei i tiki mai
Whakawhiti te ra
Upane! ka Upane!
Upane! ka Upane!
Whiti te ra!
Hi!!

Will I die! Will I die!
Will I live! Will I live!
Will I die! Will I die!
I live! I live!
For it was indeed the power of a woman (te noa)
That fetched the Sun
And caused it to shine again
One upward step! Another upward step!
Further upward! And advance!
Into the sunlight!
Hi!!!

Source: Rotorua Lakes Council