Witness the beautiful and powerful moment when students say goodbye to their teacher in true Maori style, with a Haka! Dawson Tahana Tamatea was a teacher at Palmerston North Boy’s High School in New Zealand. Unfortunately, he passed away in his sleep recently despite being just 55 years old. Sadly, he leaves behind his wife and their three children, as well as hundreds of surrogate sons in all his students.
The school posted the incredibly moving video on their Facebook page and YouTube, which quickly went viral. The video starts in silence, a mark of respect as the hearse pulls into the school grounds. The silence is then suddenly broken in one of the most primal sounds of all. The students gather and begin the cries, stamping and chest-beating of a traditional Haka.
Outside of New Zealand, the Haka is mainly known as the challenge performed by the All Blacks before each of their rugby matches. It’s much more than that, though. It is also a mark of profound respect in Maori culture, a way of acknowledging those who have made a real contribution. I don’t think anyone could argue that moulding and educating thousands of young minds falls into that category.
Here is another emotional Haka performed in memory of Jarom Hadley Nathaniel Rihari.
The Haka performed by the All Blacks is always impressive, but when you see hundreds of boys all performing it together, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
Once the Haka is complete, the students part respectfully to allow the hearse to continue its journey. It’s clear to see how much Mr Dawson Tahana Tamatea meant to all of them. For those who couldn’t attend, an online guest book was set up. Everyone who wrote an entry made it clear what a fantastic teacher Mr Tamatea was. One former pupil wrote,
“My thoughts go out to the family of Mr Tamatea. I had Mr T as a form teacher and P.E. teacher back in the early 2000’s and he had such a friendly and engaging manner you couldn’t help but like him. He will leave a big hole in the Palmy Boys community,”
It sounds as if the world has lost a gem, but wherever he is now, I’m sure Mr Tamatea heard the ground shake as his students said goodbye. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look now,