HAKA AT BARRY PILGRIM's BIRTHDAY MAY 1954

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HAKA AT BARRY PILGRIM's BIRTHDAY MAY 1954.

Caption

George Markland livening 20th Barry's Birthday Party with a rousing haka that goes down into history of these AU electricians.

ENTER GEORGE MARKLAND and BOB PATTY, HAKA3 and HAKA4

George as ever was loud and assertive “…what is wrong with you people…” and other derogatory remarks but all said in a fatherly manner. We all just stood bashfully, silent, knowing he was right but all of us lacking the entertainment skills necessary to bring Barry’s Birthday Party to life.

GEORGE and BOB’S HAKA

“…I know..” said George “…Bob let us do a haka…you act as prompt…I’ll do the instruction…”

George knew Bob, a very strongly built man of Maori descent, would likely have some clues in haka prompting. George had the edge here, in the past few weeks we all had taken his orders on the job, so when he said “hold out your arms” we all held out our arms. When he said “slap your chest” we all slapped our chests. When he said “stamp your feet in time” we all stamped our feet in time. When he said “kamate, kamate” at the top of his voice we all did the same or tried to sound those Maori words as best we could.

Gathering us together in a circle he commenced “…right then all gather around…hands out straight…slap to your chest…hands out straight….stamp your feet in time…slap to your chest…hands out…stamp your feet... I want to hear the slap … out…slap…out…slap…now… kamate! ...kamate!... louder…kamate…kamate…louder…”

Most of those young Australian men had arrived with only a faint clue where on the globe New Zealand actually was, who were Maori, what was a haka? With Bob’s faked angry face inches from theirs prompting “…slap…harder…out…slap…out ….louder…” they were beginning to get the idea that a haka was a fun thing to do. Those that were hesitant suddenly had a very fierce Maori face inches from theirs, very loudly prompting their next actions. What a great job Bob did of the necessary prompting, haka are not everyone’s idea of a fun thing to do. The haka was all over in a minute or two, yet suddenly there were grins all around, it was good. What was almost a wake had suddenly become a roaring drunken party. George and Bob had brought to life that missing party time feeling. 

Some of those young men were veterans of similar live-on the-job positions all over Australia. For others it was the beginnings of their first overseas adventure. Among them were those who were very homesick. George and Bob’s haka was a very good emotional release for all those young men. Suddenly they were amongst new friends, they felt good, and that could be plainly seen on their grinning faces. Their past lives, for the moment, became forgotten and Kawerau from then on was to become their new home.

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HAKA AT BARRY PILGRIM's BIRTHDAY MAY 1954 by Harold Thomas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License