The All Blacks surprised millions of viewers around the world when they unveiled a new formation of their haka ahead of their clash against Argentina. We explore the haka's evolution within New Zealand rugby and its special mana that will forever be embedded into the Kiwi psyche.

KA MATE

It is said that Ka Mate was composed by Te Rauparaha of Ngāti Toa to commemorate his escape from death during an incident in 1810. The name is simply translated to mean "it is death, it is death".

A pre-game haka is a rugby tradition that dates back to 1888 when the New Zealand Native team performed it during their tour of the UK, and by the "Original" All Blacks in 1905.

Initially though, rather than a challenge to the other team, the All Blacks performed Ka Mate for the crowd as pre-match entertainment.

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Fast-forward a few decades to the 70s when commentator Keith Quinn remembers the team doing a "pakeha version" of Ka Mate: "It wasn't very vigorous".

It was during Buck Shelford's reign in the 80s that the All Blacks started doing the haka properly.

"I said, 'Unless we're going to do it properly we just don't go near it'. [Because] those Pakeha boys didn't have much rhythm, eh?"

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Haka were traditionally only performed prior to All Blacks matches outside New Zealand through until 1986. Shelford and Hika Reid were instrumental in introducing Ka Mate to matches in New Zealand from 1987.

A HAKA FOR THE ALL BLACKS: KAPA O PANGO

In August 2005, before the Tri-Nations Test match against South Africa at Carisbrook, the All Blacks performed for the first time "Kapa O Pango" which had been conceived for and about the All Blacks.

It had been a year in the making and written by an expert in Tikanga Māori.

Its words and actions celebrate the land of New Zealand, the silver fern and its warriors in black. The name might be translated simply as "team in black".

A TRIANGLE FORMATION OF KA MATE

The All Blacks' Ka Mate haka sent pulses racing for viewers around the world when they performed it in a triangle formation before they took on Argentina.

The team talked about the formation on a trip to the Ngāti Toa marae in Wellington during a pre-tournament World Cup camp.

Lock Brodie Retallick said the new shape was locked in as a change before the All Blacks departed for England.

"It is something we talked about way back in the camp in Wellington," he told Fairfax Media.

Richie McCaw of New Zealand leads the Haka during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between New Zealand and Argentina at Wembley. Photo / Getty Images
Richie McCaw of New Zealand leads the Haka during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between New Zealand and Argentina at Wembley. Photo / Getty Images

"Obviously we also spent a wee bit of time out at the marae."

"We thought it was something we would do for this group and it brought us together. So it is the way we will be doing - that is going to be the formation of the haka going forward."

TWITTER REACTS TO THE TRIANGLE HAKA