Maori haka and language may keep dementia away

The famous Maori war dance (the haka) and being bilingual may help people keep dementia away. Researchers from a university in New Zealand say doing the haka and speaking two languages (Maori and English) might help Maoris avoid dementia. A study compared rates of dementia among people in their 80s and 90s. Researchers thought these rates would be higher among Maoris. This is because Maoris have less health care, less income and more heart diseases than non-Maoris. However, researchers found no differences between Maoris and non-Maoris.

The haka is a traditional war cry. A group of people all chant and repeat the same energetic movements while stamping their feet. Warriors did it before battles. They wanted to show their strength and frighten their enemy. A New Zealand football team started using it in 1888. The famous All Blacks rugby team then started using it before their matches in 1905. It is now part of the pre-match preparations for the All Blacks. A Maori professor said that skill, eye co-ordination and the difficult dance routines of the haka help to keep the brain healthy.