A HAKA by 500 men to honour the fallen and highlight issues of depression and suicide among current veterans is proposed after the Anzac Day Dawn Service in Kings Park on April 25.
“There is still a war being raged 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,” Anzac Day Haka for Life proponent Leon Ruri (40) told the Western Suburbs Weekly.
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 the North Island of New Zealand, but who 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 For Life allows us to honour those that 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 proposed 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, as Mr Ruri’s initial request was made when plans for the service had already been completed.
However, 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.
If plans are successful, the haka Ka Mate will be performed near the WA War Memorial after the Dawn Service finishes about 6.30am.
A practice will be held near the site at 2pm on March 23.
More information is available at the ANZAC Day Haka for Life Facebook page, including a haka instruction video.
RSL Anzac sunset services from 5pm to 5.30pm will be conducted at the memorial’s Flame of Remembrance from April 20 to 24.
N For mental health support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.