Schoolmates in Mourning Haka for the Christchurch Muslim Dead, April 2019

Michael Roberts

My attentiveness to the poignant power of the funeral march for Queen Elizabeth on Monday September the 19th for those attuned to the cultural modalities embodied therein that was presented in an article  immediately afterwards[1] referred to the New Zealand Maori mourning ceremonies involving specific haka performance.[2] Let me illustrate this point by a summary account of one such moment – a poignant moment when New Zealanders assembled to remember the 51 Muslim personnel[3] who had been killed by a White Australian racist as they worshipped at two mosques in Christchurch in South Island on Friday 15th March 2019.[4]


The killer was year old Brenton Tarrant. He had researched his terrain well before the attacks: the Wikipedia reconstruction claims that  on the “8th January 2019, Tarrant used a drone operated from a nearby park to investigate the mosque’s grounds” [and that in addition] he used the Internet to find detailed mosque plans, interior pictures, and prayer schedules to figure out when mosques would be at their busiest levels.”[5] His attacking modalities included several firearms and the use of video to live-stream his ‘work’. In other words, Tarrant was a sophisticated racist killer.[6]



It is the response this awful set of killings that is my focus here: the Maori-inspired cultural commemoration evoked by the grief of Ne Zealanders of all colourings, shapes and sizes. Among the dead were a few Muslim children (probably males) from a school near one of the mosques. Some of their mates, both girls and boys, were so moved that they provided the world with a mourning haka suffused with meaning.

Tears welled in my eyes as I watched that performance then. Some tears drip forth now …. presumably the same ‘colour’ as those that seeped out of my eyes on 19th September 2022 during the television spectacle of the Queen’s funeral march … “Step. Step. Step. Trodd. Trod. Trod.  ………….”

The force of meaningful death ……………………. is as profound as powerful.














Governor-General Reddy lays commeorative wreath

The Christchurch Mosque


Michael Roberts: The Measured Funeral March: Poignant Power,” 20 September 2022,


Irish Times: “Brenton Tarrant …,”


     **** ****


[1] See

[2] The “haka” is “a ceremonial Māori war dance or challenge. Haka are usually performed in a group and represent a display of a tribe’s pride, strength and unity” —

[3] The original birthplaces of these Muslims were remarkably diverse: of the 41 known roots, 9 were from Pakistan, 7 from India, 5 from Bangladesh and the rest from a wide mix of places: Egypt, UAE, Somalia, Fiji et cetera.

[4] See Wikipedia

[5] See Wikipedia =

[6] See

1 Comment

Filed under anti-racism, art & allure bewitching, communal relations, cultural transmission, ethnicity, heritage, landscape wondrous, life stories, patriotism, performance, politIcal discourse, racism, self-reflexivity, trauma, unusual people, vengeance, world events & processes

One response to “Schoolmates in Mourning Haka for the Christchurch Muslim Dead, April 2019

  1. EMAIL COMMENT from ERROL FERNANDO in Trinity, 22 Septmber 2022:
    “Moving and brilliant response from you, Michael. Thank you for sharing,”

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