Haka for Life founder Leon Ruri has been working with the local Aboriginal community to unite for this year’s ANZAC Day Haka for Life. This year will include a corroboree. (Photo: PerthNow).
23 April 2018
Natalie Richards – PerthNow
Last year, their Anzac Day haka had millions of internet viewers praising Perth for uniquely symbolising the bond between Australia and New Zealand.
This year, Haka for Life wants their spine-tingling Kings Park ceremony to be even more powerful.
Leon Ruri has combined an Aboriginal corroboree with a haka, which will be performed for the first time on Wednesday, in a ceremony he has promised will be like no other.
As expected, the process hasn’t been an easy one.
Mr Ruri said he had spent months tiptoeing between the strong views of those from each culture to try and morph the two traditional ceremonies into one.
It took three “bonding” camps, many heated discussions and hours of rehearsals between members of each culture.
About 200 people took part in the first Anzac Day Haka for Life at Kings Park (Photo: PerthNow).
About 200 people took part in the first Anzac Day Haka for Life at Kings Park
“There were definitely strong verbal exchanges which had to take place,” he said.
“But we thought it was possible as long as we could get people to communicate and get them together as two cultures.”
Mr Ruri is the founder of men’s mental health organisation When Men Speak and has been given support from the RSL to create the unique ceremony following dawn service.
While also honouring Australia and New Zealand’s fallen soldiers on Anzac Day, he hopes the ceremony will raise awareness of suicide prevention through discussing their issues.
After all, he said, if two vastly different cultures could talk through their differences, so can others.
“We’ve been able to sit down, share things that we’re passionate about and also create that respect,” he said.
“They now have a bond that is probably like no other, it’s a demonstration that getting together and talking works.”
Wednesday’s ceremony will start with Aboriginal women calling the men to the fore with tapping sticks, as a sign of respect for the traditional owners of the land.
Afterwards, a haka will be performed with dozens of men and women, some of whom were former soldiers.
The performance will end with a traditional Aboriginal celebratory dance.
Mr Ruri said he hoped to emulate the success of last year’s haka, which made headlines around the world.
“The most sacred day that we have is Anzac Day and the relationship we have with New Zealanders and I wanted to show that on Wednesday,” Mr Ruri said.
“If we can bring cultures together, we can bring human beings together.”
Haka for Life’s combined haka and corroboree will be performed on the Fraser Avenue north lawn at 7am.
[Read the PerthNow article].