The world-famous Maori war dance (the haka) and being bilingual may help Maori people keep dementia away. Researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand say performing the haka and speaking two languages (Maori and English) might help Maoris avoid getting dementia. A study by New Zealand's Ministry of Health compared rates of dementia among citizens in their 80s and 90s. They expected to find higher rates of dementia among Maoris. This is because Maoris generally have less access to health care, less income, and more heart diseases than non-Maoris. However, researchers found no differences in rates of dementia between Maoris and non-Maoris.
The haka is a traditional war cry or challenge. It is done by a group of people who all chant and repeat the same energetic movements and stamping of the feet. It was originally performed by warriors before a battle. They wanted to show their strength and frighten their enemy. The New Zealand Native football team started using it in 1888. The New Zealand rugby team (the famous All Blacks) then started using it before their matches in 1905. It is now a key part of the pre-match preparations for the All Blacks rugby team. The haka is also used to welcome important guests at ceremonies. A Maori professor said that skill, eye co-ordination and the complex dance routines of the haka help to keep the brain healthy.