If you have ever been to a Redlands East Valley football game, you have noticed that the football team performs a dance at the end of every game. The football players gather in a crowd and begin performing a series of grunts, stomps, and chants altogether called the haka, which the attendants of the football game proceed to watch.
REV alumni, including Joseph Price, class of 2015, have helped keep the haka alive in REV’s football program. Voi Fata, a senior linebacker, leads his team in this performance before every game to give them confidence, and he leads them after every game to keep the camaraderie amongst his teammates.
Fata says the haka is, “A war cry to explain how his team will perform,” against their opponents. It also, “Brings family together,” which keeps the sense of brotherhood between the members of the football team. It’s a mechanism of intimidation and union that has become widely accepted by the students at REV. Many audience members usually wait after each game to see the haka performed.
Fata explains the origins of his learning the haka. “Well it all started when my brothers and I were at my uncle’s house to practice the Haka. The first Haka we learned was the original ‘Maor’ Haka. It was a long process, learning how to speak Maori, the actions, the face expressions, etc.”
According to the official website of New Zealand, this dance resembles the original war cry from the Maori people of New England and the haka performed during the New Zealand football team tour between 1888 and 1889. Haka became a way to mourn loved ones at funerals as well as a way to celebrate great achievements, such as a graduation ceremony.
He also explains how it first came to be connected with REV football. “The reason why we ended up at my uncle’s house was to learn the Haka and perform it at a REV football banquet a couple of years ago, and after that, we loved the Haka and looked more into it.”
Fata clarifies a few misconceptions about the Haka, stating, “The Haka is more than just a ‘War Dance,’ it’s special to me because I love my culture and soon want to be able to return to my homeland someday. Now it’s a tradition at REV, every year we do the Haka, not only representing Polynesian Culture, but the love and respect for our supporters.”
The REV football program continues to implement the haka year after year thanks to the coaching staff—led by Coach Bruich—and football players such as Voi Fata.