• Dancers who performed in the Haka and Corroboree performance. (NITV)Source: NITV
For the first time in both Australian and New Zealand history, the Haka and Corroboree were performed together.
By
Rangi Hirini

25 Apr 2018 - 3:44 PM  UPDATED 25 Apr 2018 - 4:57 PM

After Perth's Anzac Day dawn service in Kings Park, an estimated 10,000 people stayed to watch Maori and Aboriginal dancers take the stage together for the historic performance.

Organising groups Haka for Life and Corroboree for Life were formed to raise awareness for men’s mental health.

Young and old Aboriginal women started the performance painted in white ochre and wearing yellow, with elders dressed in orange.

After the women danced, it was time for the men to come forward and continue to Corroboree.

Didgeridoo players led the way as the men moved forward, with their Maori brothers and sisters staying behind.

Elders who spoke before the performance said they hoped this would help decolonise Australia. 

“Many of our people went away to war, some of them never come home. The trauma of that - that impacted on family, friends and community -has been very big. It just goes on from one generation to the next,” Aunty Don Henry said. 

Corroboree for Life came together after a call from local Noongar man, Ash Penfold, earlier this year.  

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Speaking to NITV, he said the Anzac Day performance was very special for the Noongar dancers after recent deaths in the community.

“We got together before this dance, just in a circle, kind of like a men’s group, he said."

"In this last week, definitely the Noongar community, [we lost] three people - RIP Shane Yarran from Fremantle Dockers - we dance for those boys today, we dance for them today in honour of them.” 

Hāere mai Hāere mai

Once the Corroboree side of the performance was finished, the Maori group moved forward with men, women and children taking part.

With the tapping sticks and didgeridoo still playing, the Maori warriors began their chant.

Some Maori dancers wore traditional clothes, others Haka for Life shirts.

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Haka for Life founder, Leon Ruri told NITV this event was bigger than expected.

“We come here as a celebration of life, we chose life, we come here to honour ANZAC and to also deliver a message about men’s mental health and suicide prevention and men,” he said.

“Its so important that we bring two cultures together. Two are stronger than one. It’s an opportunity to display our cultures and together, powerfully. And I think the job was done today.”

The performance ended with two groups coming together and dancing as one in front of the crowd.

Maori and Aboriginal elders stood and shook hands in front of the performers, showcasing unity.

Many spectators stayed behind after the dancing finished, taking photos with the performers and sharing personal stories.

Mr Penfold said he wanted Aboriginal people to come together for a positive, joyful occasion.

“I’m so tired of our community only coming together as one, usually at funerals or protests or activities," he said.

"I wanted us to come together as one as a celebration of our lives - and how beautiful - and how much we can show the world what we’re about. And that’s what today was about."

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Bright Future

Corroboree for Life was formed just this year, and Haka for Life formed last year. Both hope to continue working together in the future.

Mr Ruri told NITV he hopes to take part in next year’s Sydney Mardi Gras to help support the First Nations' gay community.

“I have plans in place and I have an idea in my mind - and we’ll take this fight to the Mardi Gras," he said.

“I think it has a double intention message there, that it’s hard for gay men to come out in warrior culture but also in men’s sport as well.

"I just want people to know that we’re here for all men, you know, suicide does not discriminate and neither shall we and we will stand with everyone.”

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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