Perth: Haka For Life founder Leon Ruri calls on men to express themselves during Men’s Health Week


Haka For Life founder Leon Ruri says men have to learn to express themselves and talk about their feelings. Picture: Jon Hewson.
Haka For Life founder Leon Ruri says men have to learn to express themselves and talk about their feelings. Picture: Jon Hewson.

THE man behind the Anzac Day haka that went viral says men need to learn to express themselves for their own health.

Haka For Life founder Leon Ruri is on a quest to encourage men to speak about their problems and not suffer in silence during Men’s Health Week, which runs from June 11-17.

The Canning Vale resident has battled mental health issues in his life, stemming from sexual and physical abuse he suffered in his youth.

“I’ve used drugs and drinking as coping mechanisms, I had a marriage breakdown, I’ve had to challenge restraining orders,” he said.

“I’m a solo dad, my four teenagers live with me, but I’ve seen the challenges of not being able to see your children.

“I’ve suffered depression and wanted to commit suicide, but I’ve got things in place like counselling, yoga, meditation.”

Mr Ruri said he found many males did know Men’s Health Week existed and it was vital men began to speak out about their problems.

“It’s very important for men to be aware of state of mind and it’s important for this week to be promoted,” he said.

“It’s a great opportunity to create a platform for a community and nation of men for sharing the positives and negatives to enable men to see they’re not alone in what they’re going through in life.”

A proud Maori, Mr Ruri said he created Haka For Life to help break the stigma of silence by teaching people the haka.

“Men live and die in silence, and when the haka is performed, there is no silence,” he said.

“When you perform the haka, it’s a demonstration of men creating noise, it is full body expression.

“When you are doing the haka, you are vulnerable, which is really at the essence of what men don’t do a lot, there are a lot of men not prepared to be vulnerable in any way.

“It’s about getting people comfortable with getting uncomfortable and expressing themselves.”

Mr Ruri admitted there were some Maori people who may have a different view of sharing the haka given its cultural significance, but said he was prepared to have an open discussion about it.

“I know culturally, that’s just a Kiwi or Maori thing, but it’s a type of communication which can help men express themselves and save lives,” he said.

“Whenever I share the haka, it’s a full body expression and I don’t think it’s culturally exclusive.

“We’re the guardians and custodians and if what I’m the custodian of can help save lives, I’m prepared to save lives and I’m going to use it.”

If you or someone you know is in need of help, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp.