He aituā - In memory of Tā Hekenukumaingaiwa (Hek) Busby

13 May 2019

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Tā Hekenukumaingaiwi Busby ONZM, MBE (Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kahu, Te Aupouri, Ngati Kuri, and Ngapuhi), with his waka hourua, Te Aurere. Photo: Norman Heke.
Tā Hekenukumaingaiwi Busby ONZM, MBE (Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kahu, Te Aupouri, Ngati Kuri, and Ngapuhi), with his waka hourua, Te Aurere. Photo: Norman Heke.

Kua hinga te totara haemata a Tā Hekenukumaingaiwi Puhipi. Tiwha tiwha te pō, tiwha tiwha te ao. He whare i mahue kau e. He Whare i mahue kau e. Ka whatinga ake te kura o te marama. Ka pāhuka mai te moana i ngā tai e ngunguru nei. Kua hinga rātou kua hinga. Kua takoto i te ringa kaha o Aitua. Te Ihorei, Te tohunga tarai waka, whakatere waka, me ngā kaupapa waka haere, haere, haere atu rā. Haere atu ki te tini, ki te mano kua takahia atu te ara wairua. Kua noho waha ngu ngā tamariki o te Taane me Tangaroa. Kua mahue mai tō pā harakeke. Anei rā tātou e tangi nei mōu kua ngāro i te kitenga kanohi. Nā reira haere, moe mai rā e te rangatira.

We are deeply saddened at the passing of tohunga whakatere waka, tarai waka Tā Hekenukumaingaiwa (Hek) Busby, a leading figure in the revival of traditional Polynesian navigation and ocean voyaging using wayfinding techniques.

The master waka builder and traditional navigator built at least 30 waka, including several waka hourua (double-hulled sailing waka). Most notable was Te Aurere, which has sailed thousands of nautical miles, in New Zealand waters and visiting Hawaii, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island.

In his 86 years, Tā Hek enriched thousands of lives and many communities with his passion, generosity and devotion to preserving and revitalising customary Māori arts. This was recognised in 2013, when he received a special Creative New Zealand Te Waka Toi award – Te Tohu a Te Waka Toi. He had previously received Creative New Zealand’s Te Tohu mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu | Exemplary/Supreme Award, in 1996.

Tā Hek was recognised for services to Māori in the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours, when he was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. He was knighted at a formal investiture ceremony at Waitangi's Upper Marae in February this year.

Later in February the Government announced a $4.6 million grant to build the Kupe Waka Centre, a working site for waka building, carving and learning, at the southern end of Doubtless Bay, in Northland. In announcing the grant, Tourism Minister Hon Kelvin Davis said it would preserve Sir Hek’s knowledge, which was an important part of New Zealand history.

Our thoughts are with Tā Hek’s whānau and the many people whose lives he touched.

Links to other tributes:

Hekenukumai returns to Pukepoto - Te Ao Maori News

PM Jacinda Ardern remembers waka builder Sir Hekenukumai Busby as an 'icon' following his death – stuff.co.nz

Carver and celestial navigator Hekenukumaingaiwi 'Uncle Hek' Puhipi Busby knighted at Waitāngi– Radio NZ