New Zealand's rugby team, the All Blacks, perform a haka before every game

July 28, 2015 12:00 PM

Unless you’re a rugby fan or familiar with New Zealand’s culture beyond the fact that The Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed there, you might not have had an opportunity to see a traditional Maori war dance, or haka, all that often. While New Zealand’s rugby team, the All Blacks, perform a haka before every game, rugby doesn’t exactly have, say, Bachelorette levels of exposure in the U.S.

The rhythmic slapping, stomping and yelling of the haka are multi-functional: Though the dance’s roots lie in pre-battle intimidation rituals, haka are also used in peacetime. The accompanying words often describe important ancestors and events in a tribe’s history.

That all brings us to the video above, that shows somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,700 students from Palmerston North Boys’ High School in New Zealand’s North Island performing a haka at the funeral service of Dawson Tamatea, a phys ed and math teacher who taught for almost 30 years at the school.

“He is very well known amongst our school community, and amongst the wider Palmerston North community,” rector D.M. Bovey wrote in a statement. “We are very conscious that Mr. Tamatea’s passing will be difficult for many young men with whom he has had a close association as either a teacher, coach, manager or camp leader, as well as for many of our teachers who have known him for a long period of time.”

“We are extremely proud of our boys’ performance and we know that Mr. Tamatea would be too,” the school wrote on its YouTube channel.

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