Founder of Haka for Life, Leon uses the power of Haka and incredible freedom of expression to turn common suffering into common healing. Hear the story of how Leon’s personal struggles with divorce, drug abuse, and childhood trauma have led him to create this mental health movement that’s sweeping the world.
Length: 72 minutes
Leon is the founder of Haka For Life. A movement created to shine a spotlight on suicide and men’s mental health awareness.
“When a Haka is performed in any space, silence doesn’t exist. It’s men communicating and fully expressing”
In his early childhood, Leon was immersed in his Maori culture. However when his mother became a Jehovah Witness, he was taught that the cultural traditions he knew and loved were demonic.
He left home at age 15.
“I always get emotional about it. I see how powerful it is. How loving”
There is a spiritual element to the Haka. You bare all your emotions, your energy. It teaches men to be vulnerable; To stand with other men feeling the same as you. There is power in it.
The following year, Leon orchestrated change. He pushed for the New Zealand anthem to be sung and for the haka to be performed.
“I wanted to shift the mindset and show how powerful haka can be on our most sacred day.”
Leon is ashamed to think of what the ANZAC’s would think of this generation and what we’ve done with our freedom. Men are afraid to express themselves. We’ve got access to so many resources, and yet we’re still putting walls up. Leon wants to change this.
Leon’s goals for Haka For Life in the next 5 years:
Leon left his job last week to pursue Haka For Life full time. He doesn’t find value in doing work he’s not passionate about.
He wants to be able to teach men that they can do whatever they want to do. He wants to turn men who can’t communicate into communicators.
“The next level of leadership is actually letting go of some of that control and being vulnerable.”
Leon shares that he doesn’t see himself as a spokesperson on the issue. He does what he does because he’s passionate about it, not for the praise. However, he recently had a conversation that changed his mind. He learned that it’s okay to take that control, share his story and use it to empower others.
Communicating and sharing who you are is a strength.
Leon shares a powerful passage about himself:
“I’ll tell you, these are the struggles I’ve been through. I’ve failed in a marriage, had a divorce, restraining orders, [experienced] the courts and how fair and unfair the system is at times. I’ve been arrested, spent the night in lockup and experienced having no self control with my emotions. Walking those journeys and being heartbroken when you couldn’t see your children. When your children are used as weapons and pawns against you. Paying out child support in thousands and your children are still ringing you saying that we’ve got no food in the cupboard, needing to pay rent. Needing to give and give and give. I don’t talk at you like it’s from a book, I’ve lived it. This is the man that sits here before you.”
Haka for Life has built its movement on via the Facebook platform.
Share. Share what you’re about and what you’re up to. You need to stop looking for validation. Sharing who you are is a courageous act and more people ought to do it.