‘What a Send-Off!’ (2015)

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The haka is often seen at sports events.

This demonstration of esteem for the departed is called a haka by the Maori people of New Zealand, who invented it. It can also be harnessed to praise the living, but it’s usually a funeral rite.

What a Send-off!

Click and watch the video: this is what I call a send-off! I wish I could have staged one for my brother-in-law. As a tribute to the dead, you can’t beat it.

What a Send-off!

The above video was taken at the funeral of a teacher at a boys’ school in New Zealand. All that yelling and stomping is called a “haka”–a uniquely New Zealand way of paying tribute to a person or an occasion. It was invented by the Maoris, a Polynesian people who discovered and settled New Zealand a few centuries before Captain Cook discovered it. As you can see from the video, the haka now belongs to all New Zealanders regardless of race.

I don’t know about you, but this gave me goosebumps and almost made me cry. I find it profoundly moving. This is a send-off worthy of a great chief–or a beloved and respected teacher. I think King Ryons’ army sounds like this when it’s on the march and singing its anthem, His Mercy Endureth Forever, in a dozen different languages at once.

There will be Christians who will say, “But this is a pagan custom! Wholly unsuitable for Christians!”

Fah! Have they never heard of common grace? Do they not know that out of one blood God created all the peoples of the earth? If pagans do not know God, nevertheless, as St. Paul taught the Athenians, God knows them: and God is at all times as near to them as He is near to us. So of course pagans can create beautiful, stirring music, and other fine things–because they themselves are created in the image of God.

So, yeah, you bet–the haka is entirely suitable for Christians.

But it ought to be saved for special occasions.