Regional | ANZAC

Anzac Day Haka For Life taking stand for men's mental health

"We are fighting a battle that is trying to destroy us, we need you!"  Leon Ruri, founder of When Men Speak has put the call out for men and women across Perth to take a stand and raise awareness around suicide and men's mental health.

For the last month, Leon Ruri has been promoting Anzac Day Haka For Life. Those who gather in support of the event will make the most formidable stand in Māori culture, the haka.

Ruri says the idea to perform a haka to raise awareness was due to the stigma of silence attached to men's mental health and suicide.  He says, "Haka is a form of communication that shatters silence and it is so powerful in its expression when it is performed."

When he contemplated the rate of suicide among men and those affected by mental health, he says, "My heart would always think about those who sacrificed their lives for us on Anzac Day.  The trauma they lived with and for those that died, they would have suffered as well at the horrific experiences they witnessed.

The impact on them, they carried silently every day.  It is widely known that many of our service men and women are suffering PTSD."

Ruri is also calling for both Australian and New Zealand governments to put more resources and funding into ensuring  they are looked after.

A haka practise was held at Kings Park in Perth on Sunday afternoon with a large turnout of supporters.  Many men there expressed their gratitude to have a place to share similar stories and life experiences. Some were also new to performing the haka.

Ruri is expecting around 400 people to perform the haka tomorrow at the Dawn Ceremony, but says because raising awareness is his passion, he will haka solo if he has to.

"It was lovely to see so many people, all from different cultures and backgrounds.  They were all passionate about men's mental health and came to express their gratitude for the stand that we are making."

While looking forward to their morning gathering, Ruri says it's not the end for these initiatives.  He hopes to branch out into other states around Australia in the future to continue to spread the Haka For Life message.

Ruri acknowledges Ngāti Toa for the haka Ka Mate which their supporters will be performing.  The haka will commence at 6.45am on the Fraser Ave Lawn, Kings Park in Perth, Ruri insists anyone is welcome to join in.

For more information, check out their facebook page.