Multicultural & Non-English Songbook

Te Waka

Music by traditional, lyrics by Jay Sand

©2017 Jay Sand

A powerful haka, a traditionally aggressive, or at least mock-aggressive, Māori dance/chant, about keeping your canoe safe for the night. Listen to this haka, known as “Tōia Mai,” on the NZ Folksong site.


LEADER: Ā, tōia mai,
CHORUS: Te waka!
LEADER: Ki te urunga,
CHORUS: Te waka!
LEADER: Ki te moenga,
CHORUS: Te waka!

ALL: Ki te takoto rungai,
Takoto ai,
Te wa(ka)! Hi!

This enormous/gigantic/tiny/humongous canoe
Te waka!
Worked hard all day
Te waka
Now it must go
Te waka!

Up to high ground where it’s safe,
Let’s put it here
Te wa(ka)! Hee!

This is a strong (and fun!) chant! Teacher can lead students in a powerful, stomping renditition, with each verse ending in an inimidating "Heeeeeeeee!" (Teachers, make sure to introduce the haka as a revered, even-spiritual dance and cultural art form of the Maori. We enjoy chanting but we're not making fun of the song or the form.)

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