Plan for An­zac Day haka

EVENT TO DRAW AT­TEN­TION TO DE­PRES­SION AMONG VETERANS

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Jon Bas­sett

A HAKA will be per­formed af­ter the An­zac Day Dawn Ser­vice in Kings Park on April 25 to hon­our the fallen and high­light is­sues of de­pres­sion and sui­cide among veterans.

Leon Ruri, a Can­ning­ton res­i­dent and founder of the men’s group When Men Speak, is or­gan­is­ing the Haka For Life.

More than 200 men have al­ready shown in­ter­est in par­tic­i­pat­ing.

Mr Ruri (40) said de­pres­sion had a dev­as­tat­ing af­fect on war veterans.

“There is still a a war be­ing waged against men in our lounges, in our homes, that is ab­so­lutely dec­i­mat­ing us and we need to fight against this be­cause it is a bat­tle we are los­ing,” he said.

In Fe­bru­ary, a Se­nate in­quiry was told the es­ti­mated rate of sui­cide by veterans was about 12 per 100,000, twice the rate of deaths from car crashes na­tion­ally.

Aus­tralian In­sti­tute for Sui­cide Re­search and Preven­tion’s Kate­lyn Kerr told the in­quiry there was no ac­cu­rate data record­ing all in­ci­dents across the states.

Mr Ruri, who is orig­i­nally from New Zealand but has been in Aus­tralia for 23 years, said the haka Ka Mate had the power to break the si­lence of men suf­fer­ing alone.

“The An­zac Day Haka d467541 For Life al­lows us to hon­our those who have sac­ri­ficed their lives on this most sa­cred day. It al­lows us to hon­our all men, to show men can come to­gether in love to ex­press our feel­ings of grat­i­tude and sup­port for each other and to re­mem­ber those that have passed through sui­cide,” he said.

The haka may be per­formed by any­one with a Kiwi con­nec­tion to re­flect the orig­i­nal bonds cre­ated by the Aus­tralian New Zealand Army Corps (An­zac) in 1915.

The pro­posal does not yet have RSL ap­proval be­cause Mr Ruri’s re­quest was made when plans for the ser­vice had al­ready been com­pleted.

But RSLWA op­er­a­tions man­ager Martin Holzberger said there was no ob­jec­tion to com­mem­o­ra­tions made by oth­ers “in their own way” in pub­lic ar­eas af­ter the ser­vice.

“RSLWA sup­ports high­light­ing veterans’ is­sues, in­clud­ing men­tal health, as long as any group’s ac­tions do not de­tract from the sig­nif­i­cance of the day or of­fend those at­tend­ing,” Mr Holzberger said.

The haka Ka Mate will be per­formed near the WA War Memo­rial af­ter the Dawn Ser­vice fin­ishes about 6.30am. For de­tails, visit the An­zac Day Haka for Life Face­book page.

For men­tal health sup­port, call Life­line on 13 11 14.

Pic­ture: Marie Nirme

Men’s group founder Leon Ruri is plan­ning a haka at the end of the An­zac Day ser­vice in Kings Park on April 25.

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