What Is the Haka? New Zealand Terror Attack Victims Honored With Traditional Maori Dance

Members of the Māori community have paid tribute to the victims of the New Zealand terrorist attack, by performing a traditional dance outside one of the targeted mosques.

Bikers from the Black Power group performed the haka dance in front of the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on Sunday, where a gunman fatally shot worshippers who had gathered for Friday prayers, The New Zealand Herald reported.

The haka is a term used to describe the traditional dances of the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand and the country's second largest ethnic group. The Haka is used to celebrate life, and has ceremonial and social purposes, including welcoming foreign dignitaries. It is also performed by the New Zealand national rugby team before matches.

"We're here to express our love," said a man who lead the haka. "This has happened here in our community. This is all our communities."

In footage of the dance, a blanket of floral tributes laid for the victims of the shooting could be seen ahead of the dancers. One couple donated flowers from their wedding, which took place on the day of the attack, BBC News reported.

At least 50 people were killed on Friday and a further 36 people were in hospital on Sunday after a gunman opened fire at the Masjid Al Noor and Linwood Masjid mosques in the city of Christchurch. The killer live-streamed the shooting on Facebook.

Australian Brenton Harris Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder over the terror attack. He appeared in court on Saturday morning. Prior to the attack which he live-streamed on Facebook, he shared a 74-page extreme-right wing, white nationalist manifesto online.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the attack as "an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence."

She said on Friday: "It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities. New Zealand is their home—they are us."

Ardern said New Zealand would change its gun laws in response to the massacre.

"While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun license and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now: Our gun laws will change," she told reports at a news conference on Saturday.

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Members of the Māori community pay tribute to the victims of the massacre in Christchurch. Twitter/Hassan Ghani
What Is the Haka? New Zealand Terror Attack Victims Honored With Traditional Maori Dance | World