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As voyage begins from Tahiti we honour Sir Hek Busby

Media release: 20 August 2019

The moment of departure of a double-hulled canoe from Tahiti to Aotearoa New Zealand will be a very special moment, say Tuia 250 National Coordinating Committee Co-Chairs Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr and Dame Jenny Shipley.

“The voyage will align with the exact time the honouring of the late Sir Hekenukumai Busby will take place at Tūrangawaewae Marae in Waikato,” says Hoturoa.

“Sir Hek and other voyagers have been pivotal in the revitalisation of the art form of canoe-building and pacific voyaging. It is particularly appropriate that he will be honoured at the moment of departure of the Fa’afaite and crew from Tahiti as the Tuia 250 voyage begins.

“We celebrate the traditional navigation that will be used aboard Fa’afaite on this voyage, under the command of the Captain India Tabellini. She carries on the great tradition of both female and male rangatira who commanded the waka as they travelled across the Pacific and arrived in Aotearoa hundreds of years ago,” Hoturoa says.

Dame Jenny says she is delighted that an important part of Pacific history through voyaging and navigational skill will have prominence in Aotearoa New Zealand’s Tuia 250 national commemoration.

“We will honour and celebrate the life and role of Tupaia, the Tahitian master navigator who assisted James Cook’s Endeavour and note that they also had the benefit of experienced Polynesian voyaging and navigation capability,” Dame Jenny says.

“Tupaia’s role was so critical in the support of the Endeavour’s expedition, yet his role has not been recognised with the prominence it deserves to date.

“We view it as very special that the Tahitian crew will carry taonga from important places of relevance to Tupaia’s life and they will be gifted at significant sites of early pacific arrival and of importance to Tupaia and Cook, during the Tuia 250 Voyage. These gifts will reinforce and celebrate the Polynesian connection to the dual heritage voyaging and navigation traditions of both Māori and Pākehā arrival in Aotearoa.

“In New Zealand, Fa’afaite will be joined by two waka hourua to be especially welcomed in Tūranga / Gisborne on 5 October, in a ceremony to formally acknowledge the role that Polynesian voyaging traditions have contributed to the country we are today.

“This arrival ceremony will be broadcast live to the nation on that day so we can all hear these stories and share the experience.

“Three days later the HMB Endeavour replica, the Spirit of New Zealand and the R. Tucker Thompson will arrive and be welcomed marking 250 years since Māori and Pākehā first met on land,” says Dame Jenny.

The Co-Chairs invite all New Zealanders to track the voyage of the Tuia 250 Flotilla and follow updates from the crew, by using the same technology developed for the Volvo Ocean Race. Follow the Voyage at

Updated on 23rd September 2019