New Zealanders across the country are speaking out against a deadly mosque shooting that took place on Friday. The shooting killed at least 50 Muslim worshippers at two different mosques in Christchurch, and injured 50 more people. As vigils take place to commemorate the lives of the victims, groups of students and other New Zealanders have performed the haka to pay tribute to the Christchurch mosque shooting victims.
The haka, which is the traditional battlefield ceremonial dance of the indigenous Maori people, is performed to mark significant occasions, according to The Washington Post. On Twitter, thousands of people have retweeted videos of students, as well as Maori groups, performing passionate and evocative hakas for those who lost their lives in the Christchurch shooting.
Among those to perform the haka were students from the Christchurch Boys' High School on Monday. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the students performed their haka at the Hagley College, which is providing aid to the families hit by the Christchurch attack.
One of the students, Fergus Kilpatrick, spoke to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about the significance of their haka, which is shared below. "It's something that's really special," Kilpatrick said. "It's a part of our culture and it's what we've done growing up, and to share that with someone through their grieving period."
Australian outlet SBS News also tweeted a video of an impromptu haka performed by other students in solidarity with the victims. The Guardian noted that students from various schools performed the dance across New Zealand.
Twitter user Aisha Dadi Patel tweeted a video of another haka performed for the Christchurch victims. "More Maori support displayed through a haka with the volunteers currently in Christchurch," Dadi Patel tweeted, adding that her cousin participated in the performance.
In The Post, Jennifer Hassan and Emily Tamkin described the haka performed by students as "a reminder that the war dance is also used to symbolize national identity, solidarity, and pride."
Another clip, shared below, depicts dozens of New Zealanders performing a haka for the mosque shooting victims. AJ+ senior producer Sana Saeed called it a "powerful, cathartic, and pounds-in-your-heart" display.
In another example, a man performed an emotional haka all by himself for the victims of the Christchurch mosque shooting.
Another Maori group paid tribute to the victims of the shooting through a powerful haka. Robbie Shilliam, a professor who teaches international relations at John Hopkins University, tweeted that "these are not random Maori [people]. Nor a 'biker gang.'"
"They are Mangu Kaha, the Black Power," Shilliam explained on Twitter. "There is a specific history which makes sense of their solidarity here."
Shilliam linked to a paper he wrote, which was titled The Polynesian Panthers and The Black Power Gang: Surviving Racism and Colonialism in Aotearoa New Zealand, to explain the solidarity the group showed.
As Hassan and Tamkin noted in The Post, the haka can be an outlet for grief, frustration, and loss. Muslims in New Zealand who watched the Christchurch Boys' High School haka told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that they were moved by the ceremonial dance.
"We are very fortunate to be here in New Zealand with people...who understand our culture and our religion," Mohammed Daud Kahn, a member of the Christchurch community, told the outlet. "This event has scarred us but it's also brought us closer together."