ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the August 4, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by LJ user Ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "dancing" square in my 5-20-15 card for the Wellness Toolbox Bingo fest. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"Whakaeke"


When Chillybin's superpower first manifested in 1960,
he made a complete nuisance of himself from
one end of New Zealand to the other,
since there was no one to stop him.

In 1961, he made the mistake
of interrupting a karanga ceremony
at the marae complex of a formidable clan.

When he iced over the podium
and demanded tribute, one young woman
strode forward and began to shout at him,
waving her arms and stamping her feet.

Chillybin was taken aback.
No one had ever challenged him before.

So he did the only thing he could think of:
he iced her feet to the floor to stop her
from dancing around like that.

Then members of her whānau came up
to join the haka at her side, family and friends
forming ranks of sturdy, tattooed bodies
all chanting and stamping in unison.

The woman crouched, rocking back and forth
in time with their song, slapping her strong thighs --
and the ice began to break away!

Chillybin's minions ran to help him,
but it was already too late.

They knew what a haka was,
but not how to do one or how to handle
the amount of energy pouring off the crowd.

The woman pulled free of the ice
and came toward them, squatting and stomping,
moving sideways like a crab as she shook her fists.

A strange power gathered, crackling like static
as it drew from the people around her,
pushing back the supervillain
and his hapless minions.

Finally they broke and ran.

The whole clan roared in triumph,
and the young woman led a victory dance.

That was the first haka mana,
the power challenge that came
to characterize New Zealand's way
of dealing with superpowers.

Forever after, people spoke of the event
as Whakaeke, the entrance song before a haka.

So Awhina Parata, newly known as Mauri,
became their first superhera, and
no end of trouble to Chillybin.

While the rest of the world was still trying
to sweep superpowers under the rug,
the Maori were already weaving them
into the fabric of their culture.

* * *

Notes:

Mauri (Awhina Parata) -- She has tinted skin, brown eyes, and short curly brown hair. She is a talented haka dancer and active in her tribal culture. Her Empathy includes the ability to merge energy from many different people to create the desired impact. She lives in New Zealand and is famous for her role in the Whakaeke. In the picture, Awhina is the farthest forward on the right side.
Origin: Her first recognized use of Empathy happened during a public confrontation with Chillybin, which became famous as the Whakaeke. However, it may have been active before then.
Uniform: Usually street clothes, but for special occasions, traditional Maori regalia.
Qualities: Expert (+2) Haka, Good (+2) Clan Ties, Good (+2) Courage, Good (+2) Leader, Good (+2) Thinking Outside the Box
Poor (-2) Broke
Powers: Good (+2) Empathy
Motivation: To hold her clan together.

Chillybin (Oscar Harris) -- He has fair skin, hazel eyes, and short wavy brown hair. He is short and wiry. His heritage is primarily British. He lives in New Zealand and is famous for his role in the Whakaeke, the first time a supervillain and superhero used haka to establish dominance. Chillybin gets by from stealing things. But sometimes he just likes to make a scene.
Origin: A dissatisfied crime boss locked Oscar in a freezer as punishment for misbehavior. Oscar came out of it with superpowers instead of ethics.
Uniform: Street clothes, but Chillybin favors loud patterns such as plaid or tropical motifs to attract attention.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Thief, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Showing Off, Good (+2) Survivor
Poor (-2) Coward
Powers: Good (+2) Cold Powers, Average (0) Minions
The Six-Pack don't have any special powers. They're just ordinary criminals who admire Chillybin and help him with his plans to be a complete pain in the arse.
Motivation: He likes money. And attention. And messing with people.

* * *

The haka is a traditional Maori dance performed for various occasions. It resembles dominant body language by making expansive gestures such as spreading the legs and waving the arms. Although most famous as a war dance, haka also features in many other events such as funerals or graduations. Notably it incorporates women as well as men, the precursor for drawing bystanders into a soup conflict for moral support. It is also a vital job skill for T-New Zealand police, allowing them to compete against supervillains; an officer adept in haka may well defeat an opponent who has superpowers but lower social stance and dance skill. Furthermore, the chants, songs, calls, etc. are all in Maori, so fluency in that language is a necessary component of the performance. Kapa haka encompasses the breadth of the performing arts in Maori culture, and haka figures into many concepts in the language. In T-New Zealand history, the Maori were moving away from fatal combat and increasingly preferred to resolve conflicts via haka competitions, by the time of first contact with Europeans. This trend has continued to evolve and shapes their contemporary practices.  You can learn how to do haka.

Haka regalia consists of nga kakahu, traditional Maori clothing. Women wear a pari (bodice) over a long piupiu (skirt). Men wear a tatua (sash) over a short piupiu. Tipares are woven headbands which may be worn by both women and men, sometimes used to hold feathers or other ornaments. Loose flax and finished lined are the primary materials, augmented with woolen embroidery thread, dyes, and other supplies. The korowai is a cloak or cape, traditionally decorated with feathers. During a performance of kapa haka, the two kaea -- a female leader and a male leader -- each wear one. Thus, wearing a cape constitutes a serious claim to authority in T-New Zealand. Lower-ranked soups do not wear capes, and locals can take offense at foreigners who do so if the individual does not seem to have sufficient social status to deserve it. All of these things are important parts of Maori culture.

Moko are Maori tattoos, traditionally made with a chisel and ink to create a unique combination of scarification and tattoo. The marks indicate many things including kinship, status, accomplishments, earned rights; the more tattoos, the higher the rank, except that some highly tapu (sacred, powerful, and dangerous) people are considered unsafe to tattoo. Conflict has arisen between Maori and foreigners over misappropriation, although historically the Pākehā Māori (adopted Europeans) sometimes earned moko. According to T-New Zealand law, foreign tattoos or Maori-inspired kirituhi may be merely decorative but moko are official insignia equivalent to medals or uniforms. Therefore moko must be earned; it is illegal to wear them without earning them, or to discriminate against anyone because of them. Tribal face painting appears around the world, alongside or instead of permanent markings. Maori folklore suggests that facepaint may have predated tattoos. Facepaint is sometimes used for staged shows so that performers may take different roles, or to indicate temporary authority such as the leadership of a specific event.

A whakaeke is the entrance song performed before a haka. In T-New Zealand, the first conflict between Chillybin and Mauri is called "The Whakaeke."

Chilly bin – A cooler bin, used for keeping drinks cold.

Karanga -- The ceremony of calling to the guests to welcome them onto the marae.

Marae -- the area for formal discourse in front of a meeting house; or the whole marae complex, including meeting house, dining hall, forecourt, etc.

Maori clans and the whānau or extended family form important structures within the culture.

Dominance fights appear in many animal species including meerkats, wolves, and ponies. Notably, chimpanzees do a considerable amount of such squabbling, while bonobos prefer to resolve most of their conflicts via sexual activity. Humans have developed their own versions of ritualized combat based on emotional skills. In Terramagne, most cape fights are really dominance fights, with a low chance of serious injury or death.

Threat displays belong to the family of agonistic behavior surrounding fights, which also includes gestures of aggression and submission. These serve a practical purpose of allowing opponents to size up each other's prowess, thus reducing actual combat, which lowers the chance of harm. Much the same holds true in human conflicts: the alpha male threat display helps keep it in the realm of social rather than physical altercation. In T-New Zealand, most cape fights have evolved into threat displays expressed through the cultural practice of haka.

Mana means "authority, power; secondary meaning: reputation, influence." This is the word that Maori people use for superpowers, but it retains the connotation of social status as well. Haka mana is the contemporary custom of settling disputes between superhero and supervillain with a show of song, dance, and mystical abilities -- without causing harm to anyone or anything. Thus it favors those abilities which are communal (such as Empathy or Superpower Sharing) or impressive to display (such as Illusion, Shapeshifting, or Super-Strength). Because it customarily draws on the combined stance of many people, this also allows a family or other group to fend off a single supervillain. An experienced haka team can make almost anyone back down, just with sheer social force.

Mauri -- Hidden essential life force or a symbol of this. In a superpower context, this applies to Empathy and other powers characterized by personal energy.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-07 11:28 am (UTC)
chanter_greenie: a blue-shaded dyed egg (not enough blue in the world)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
This is around twenty-five different kinds of *cool!* I have a case of the major warm fuzzies, and I can't entirely articulate why. ... If I say that the idea of a group of people unifying in song/dance in response to a challenge really appeals somehow, am I crowding in on a culture that I have no claim to?

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-07 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lone_cat
I wonder what effect the haka mana has on the status of the Maori language.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-07 02:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
Awesome! We actually accidentally met a family of Maori dance competitors, back when Sneak was trying to save a lamed horse. The family was the horse-owner's neighbors, so we ended up knocking on their door to spread word about the horse. When they realized we were foreign and had no idea what haka was, they immediately set us down to show some vids of the competition. It was FUCKING AWESOME.

I still regret that we were unable to make their competition that year.

--Rogan

Thank you!

Date: 2015-08-07 03:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Awesome! <<

I'm glad you enjoyed it.

>> We actually accidentally met a family of Maori dance competitors, back when Sneak was trying to save a lamed horse. The family was the horse-owner's neighbors, so we ended up knocking on their door to spread word about the horse. When they realized we were foreign and had no idea what haka was, they immediately set us down to show some vids of the competition. It was FUCKING AWESOME. <<

That is so cool!

>>I still regret that we were unable to make their competition that year.

--Rogan<<

Bummer. It would have been exciting.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-07 03:39 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (wastes)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Incredibly fascinating, thank you!

... And I have spent an hour and a half or more editing a couple of Wikipedia articles about New Zealand. (Tino rangatiratanga, Claudia Orange)

You're welcome!

Date: 2015-08-07 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad that you enjoyed this. It was nice of you to update the articles too.

Re: You're welcome!

Date: 2015-08-07 05:42 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
(Hmm, lots of ang in both those titles...)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-07 03:41 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (question mark)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
In a superpower context, this applies Empathy and other powers characterized by personal energy.

implies? Or no?

Well...

Date: 2015-08-07 03:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
That should say "applies to" and I've fixed it.

Re: Well...

Date: 2015-08-07 05:41 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Ah. Good. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-07 01:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clockworklady.livejournal.com

Wow. My family's Australian, but we don't buy into the 'rivalry' between Australia and New Zealand. The sad part is, at least half of Australians are joking when we say 'bloody Kiwis', the other half aren't being so friendly. We love watching the haka at sporting events and my brother and Mum were real fans when they went. For what people say about Australians, if the Aussies face off against the Kiwis, the Aussie sportsman pay attention and show respect. One team from another country who faced the Kiwis didn't...so the New Zealanders thrashed them, much to the joy of my mother watching.

Thank you!

Date: 2015-08-08 05:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Wow. <<

:D

>> My family's Australian, but we don't buy into the 'rivalry' between Australia and New Zealand. <<

Well, good.

>> The sad part is, at least half of Australians are joking when we say 'bloody Kiwis', the other half aren't being so friendly. <<

There are prats in every crowd.

>>We love watching the haka at sporting events and my brother and Mum were real fans when they went. For what people say about Australians, if the Aussies face off against the Kiwis, the Aussie sportsman pay attention and show respect. One team from another country who faced the Kiwis didn't...so the New Zealanders thrashed them, much to the joy of my mother watching.<<

Heh, yeah.

haka mana

Date: 2017-01-03 03:27 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
I'll second the, "at least two dozen kinds of cool" comment. <3 <3 <3

I've never seen haka competitions. Something new to look forward to, yay!

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