Hundreds gather for master waka builder Sir Hekenukumai Busby's final voyage

Hundreds gathered today for the tangi of master waka builder Sir Hekenukumai Busby at Te Uri o Hina Marae in Pukepoto in Northland.

Thousands have visited the marae to bid farewell to "Hec", as he was affectionately known, since he died last Saturday at the age of 86.

Sir Hekenukumai was of Te Rarawa and Ngāti Kahu iwi and was recognised as a leading figure in the revival of traditional Polynesian navigation, wayfinding and ocean voyaging techniques.

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Master carver Sir Hekenukumai Busby, 86, has been honoured for his work with waka hourua. Source: 1 NEWS

He began his career building bridges in the Far North, completing more than 200 before quitting to pursue his true passion in his 50s.

His canoe building was entirely self-taught - he cut kauri logs for Te Aurere and sailed that canoe more than 30,000 nautical miles to Rarotonga in 1992.

He went on to sail around New Zealand and other Pacific islands, becoming the first New Zealand Māori to be appointed a Polynesian master navigator.

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Hek, as he’s affectionately known, was knighted today at Waitangi. Source: 1 NEWS

Sir Hekenukumai was knighted at Waitangi this year, with more than 1000 people present to witness.

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His tangi was held today in Northland.