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News > New Zealand

Māoris, Aborigines Join For Historic Performance During Anzac

  • Māoris and  Aborigines joined to honor the sacrifice of Anzacs.

    Māoris and Aborigines joined to honor the sacrifice of Anzacs. | Photo: Reuters file

Published 26 April 2019
Opinion

The two Indigenous groups united their distinct cultures and performed traditional dances in front of an audience of about 30,000 people in Kings Park.

More than 100 New Zealand Māoris and Australian Aborigines joined for a historic performance of during an event to commemorate the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac), who fought in the First World War.

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“We've got two incredibly beautiful Indigenous cultures who really love to express themselves. To bring that back to its core and be able to demonstrate that and acknowledge that through the cultures that exist in the land is a wonderful thing,” Haka for Life coordinator Leon Ruri declared.

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The Indigenous groups united their distinct cultures and performed traditional dances in front of an audience of about 30,000 people in Kings Park.

The Maori dancers performed a haka while their Aborigines counterparts presented a corroboree.  

“The message we want to get across is to honor the sacrifice of the Anzacs for our life that we’re able to have today,” Ruri told Maori Television and adding that he penned a new haka called Te Whakapuakitanga (or The Declaration) for the event.

Meanwhile, Corroboree For Life founder Ash Penfold said the goal of the performance was to “make noise.”

“And what that is is recognition, for, not just our un-aboriginal that fought, but our aboriginal that fought, our Māori.”

The Aboriginal corroboree included a didgeridoo player and dancers wearing traditional body paint. 

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who served with Australian forces in the first world war is estimated to be in the range of 1,000-1,200.

"It's an opportunity for us to be able to acknowledge those who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and the suicide rates that exist among our servicemen and women," Ruri stated and highlighting mental health issues experienced by Indigenous men.

“The statistics say that we're twice as likely to die by suicide in Australia and New Zealand if we're indigenous, so this is an opportunity for us to be able connect back to our culture."

Both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders soldiers were excluded from the census database and not considered citizens after the war and also denied repatriation benefits.

Ruri stated that he hopes other territories united for Anzac Day and make it a cultural event.

“This is a dream that I want to have haka and corroboree as part of every Anzac Day service and when you talk about the Anzac spirit you talk about the first peoples and the first nations people of each lands.”

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