The ʻotuhaka (ʻotu-haka: row-of-dancemovements) is a traditional Tongan group dance with prominent Sāmoan influence wherein the performers are seated and make gestures with their arms only, with some accentuation from head and body.


Originally the ʻotuhaka was performed by older, chiefly ladies only, who were supposed to be too old to stand. Very often a ʻotuhaka was followed by an ula performed by their (standing) daughters or any young, chiefly ladies. In another respect, the 'Otuhaka was believed to be performed early in the morning to wake the King in a peaceful and subtle way. The performers sat crosslegged on the ground in a half circle with the guest of honour (the chief to whom they wanted to give homage) at the centre. Like the māʻuluʻulu part of the performance is on the beat of the music only, part of it is with additional singing of a chorus. The music by tradition, consists of beating with sticks on the tafua, bamboos, which are rolled up in a mat, just to keep the beat.


Nowadays the ʻotuhaka can be performed by men and women of any rank, but as dance it is decidedly less popular than its successor the māʻuluʻulu, as the words and the dance movements are prescribed by tradition. Yet every dance master who is conducting this dance has a different version which he will claim is the right one from ancient times. The people from Lapaha may have the strongest claim, as they are the guardians of the Tuʻi Tonga traditions.

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