President/CEO Katherine Gottlieb was inspired after visiting New Zealand and seeing the Haka performed by the Tainui Māori people. The impact of this performance inspired Southcentral Foundation to create a dance challenge in response to the Haka. The challenge will be held at AFN with three rounds; preliminaries, semi-finals and a final round. This is an Alaska Native dance competition for Alaska Native dance groups.

The main focus of the challenge will be to create a new and original dance that incorporates your culture, history, traditions, and regalia. The challenge is open to all ages and will have large cash prizes! This new dance will challenge and respond to the New Zealand Maori peoples traditional Haka, and will also be taught throughout Alaska.

The Haka is a traditional war cry, dance, or challenge from the Maori people of New Zealand traditionally used on the battlefield, as well as when groups came together in peace. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment. The words of a Haka often poetically describe ancestors and events in the tribe’s history.

Today, Haka is still used during Māori ceremonies and celebrations to honor guests and show the importance of the occasion. This includes family events, like birthdays and weddings.

To view an example of a New Zealand Maori peoples traditional Haka, click here. For other examples follow this link.

You are invited to watch all of the entries at the 2017 AFN Convention. The public semi-final performances will be held Wednesday, October 18 at 6 p.m. at the Dena’ina Center. Final performances will be held on Saturday, October 21 at 2 p.m. at the Dena’ina Center.