Anzac haka leads to talk of expansion
THE RSL will consider making a New Zealand haka highlighting veterans’ and men‘s mental health part of annual Anzac Day ceremonies after the success of the inaugural Haka for Life at King’s Park last week.
“We support anything that supports veterans,” RSL WA spokesman Martin Holzberger said.
About 200 New Zealanders, Australians and a few foreigners took part in the haka organised by men’s mental health advocate Leon Ruri.
The haka was held some distance away and after the dawn service.
It also reflected the original trans-Tasman bonds created by the Australia New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) in 1915.
The RSL would now like to discuss the haka being potentially held at another site during future Anzac Days, so its effect and messages are taken to more of the public.
“We do think it could be another place, perhaps the start of the march, so we can make it into a significant part of the day,” Mr Holzberger said.
In February, a Senate inquiry was told the estimated rate of suicide among veterans was about 12 per 100,000 – twice the rate of deaths from car crashes nationally.
Last month’s Haka for Life gained national, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Brazilian publicity.
Mr Ruri is now investigating making it a charity to develop other events and assistance for mental health promotion, including mental health organisations Lifeline and Beyond Blue. He said he recognised Perth’s dawn service was a solemn event.
“A haka is my way of expressing to you I love you, and it’s the most powerful way of saying I recognise you as a person,” Mr Ruri said.
If you need support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Veterans Families Counselling Service on 1800 011 046.
Leon Ruri has further ideas for his Haka for Life.