The History of Haka
History of the Haka "Kamate."
"Te Rauparaha" the famous fighting Chief of Ngati toa and Ngati Raukawa composed the Haka Kamate. It tells the simple story of pursuit, escape, fear of capture and the exhilaration of ultimate survival
While skirting around the lakeside of Taupo,
Te Rauparaha was almost caught by his enemies, who were lying in wait for him. Fleeing for his life, Te Rauparaha arrived at Motuopuhi, and asked the local chief Te Whareangi for protection.
After some hesitation, Te Whareangi permitted Te Rauparaha to hide in his kumara (sweet potato) pit. Te Whareangi's wife, Te Rangikoaea then sat over the kumara pit.
As the pursuing enemies approached chanting incantations, Te Rauparaha, from the depths of the kumara pit, felt sure he was doomed, muttered Kamate Kamate (I die, I die). On not being discovered by his enemies he cried Ka Ora, Ka Ora (I live, I live). The hairy man who caused the sun to shine again! The sun shines!
In the literal sense, Upane means terrace, and each Upane possibly refers to each step Te Rauparaha took as he climbed the "terrace steps" out of the kumara pit and into the freedom of sunlight.
As Te Rauparaha laid waiting in the potatoe pit he vented his feelings and then reportedly performed his Haka of joy before Te Wharerangi and Te Rangikoaea, once out of the kumara pit and into freedom.