Anzac Day was celebrated in many different ways across Australia and New Zealand on Thursday and Maori and Indigenous communities across Perth joined forces for a truly special tribute for our fallen soldiers.
Members of the Haka For Life and Corroboree For Life groups came together for a powerful haka and corroboree performance at Perth’s Anzac Day dawn service. The haka is a traditional war cry or challenge in Māori culture, but in modern times it’s also performed on meaningful occasions. It’s one of the highest honours in Maori culture.
A corroboree is an Australian Aboriginal dance ceremony which usually takes the form of a sacred ritual or an informal gathering. Aboriginals interact with the Dreamtime through dance, music and costume.
The two groups first came together in 2018 with hopes of the cultural dances becoming an annual tradition. For half an hour, the two groups performed in front of hundreds of onlookers at Western Australia’s State War Memorial to commemorate Indigenous soldiers. It was also an opportunity for both groups to not only showcase their traditional cultures, but to raise awareness around suicide in these communities.
“What we really stand for is choosing life, it doesn’t work for me anymore that our people are suffering in silence,” Corroboree for Life Founder Ash Penfold said at the service, according to SBS. “We are here not just to honour our Anzacs but to raise awareness and recognition for our people on a cultural platform. Our culture is beautiful. We’re one of the oldest in the world and we get to share that.”
Meanwhile, a post shared by the Haka For Life Facebook page explained the haka performed was called TE WHAKAUUAKITANGA – THE DECLARATION.
“The first part of the HAKA is a total acknowledgement to the ANZAC, with a salute. The second part is based on my journey through the challenges of life when my mind was sick,” the post read. “It is also a journey that many face. It is a message that speaks to the thoughts and journey we go through. A message that U [SIC] can be restored and stand great again no matter the challenges and circumstances that U maybe [SIC] experiencing.
The performance has been shared widely across social media, with many praising both groups for the salute to Aussie and Kiwi diggers.
One person on Facebook wrote: “This is MAGNIFICENT to watch. Well done! The choreography couldn’t have been an easy task. Magical.”
Another comment read: “We should see more of it across Australia at significant events.”
A third message added: “Now that’s respect! Awesome Powerful display of culture, respect, understanding and unity.”
“We feel this is a wonderful example of the combined ANZAC Spirit,” RSL WA added on Facebook. “Australia and New Zealand, standing together to tell the world and every person suffering in silence that they are not alone.”