August 20, 2019
Sir Hek remembered at Tahitian vaka sets sail
The departure of a double-hulled canoe from Tahiti to Aotearoa New Zealand today was timed to coincide with a ceremony at Tūrangawaewae Marae honouring the late waka builder and master navigator Sir Hekenukumai Busby.
Hundreds of people were at the Marae in Ngaruawāhia this morning for Ngā Kawe Mate o Te Motu, where those who have died during the previous year are remembered.
Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr from this Tuia 250 National Coordinating Committee says it was a chance to celebrate Sir Hek’s contribution to traditional navigation, which will be used aboard Fa’afaite on the voyage.
It is captained by India Tabellini, who carries on the tradition of both female and male rangatira who commanded the waka as they travelled across the Pacific.
Co-chair Dame Jenny Shipley says the participation of Tahitians in the Tuia 250 commemorations of the arrival is Captain James Cook in 1769 will highlight the role of the navigator Tupaia, who guided Cook to Aotearoa and acted as a translator and bridge to Māori.
The Fa’afaite will carry taonga from important places of relevance to Tupaia’s life which will be gifted at significant sites of early Pacific arrival and of importance to Tupaia and Cook.
Its voyage from French Polynesia is expected to take about a month.
People can track the voyage of the Fa’afaite and the Tuia 250 Flotilla at www.tuia250.nz
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