Last week, a beautifully chilling video surfaced. In it, a bride and groom emotionally watch on as their friends and family perform a native chant. Although outside of the traditional realm of wedding performances, the video ended up captivating and resonating with people from all over the world.

The chant-like performance was a haka. The haka is an ancient war dance of the Māori people of New Zealand. The haka is meant to symbolize a tribe’s unity and pride. Though originally used in times of war to intimidate the opponent, a haka is still used in modern times during Māori ceremonies or celebrations as a symbol of peace, to honor guests and to show the significance of the occasion. While the look and feel of a haka can be aggressive, with body slapping and tongue protrusions, the loud chant is actually quite poetic and usually talks of the tribe’s ancestors and their history.

Cultural Traditions: The Māori Haka Cultural Traditions: The Māori Haka

In a little over 24 hours, the haka performed by family and friends at the wedding of Aaliyah and Benjamin Armstrong had been viewed more than 19 million times. Aaliyah told CNN, “We knew that they’d organized a haka, but not that scale.” The couple can be seen becoming emotional during the performance and ultimately jump in to reciprocate the love and respect back to their friends. The bride’s cousin, who filmed the presentation and put the video online, told CNN in response to the video feedback, “We do hakas all the time in New Zealand, but we never expected that reaction.”

For us, the most emotional part was at the end when the groom thanked the dancers in a traditional Māori greeting by touching his forehead to theirs.

No matter what your cultural background or traditions may be, the most important and inspiring part is the love and respect given by everyone involved.


Click here to view the full wedding video.