Master canoe builder Sir Hekenukumai 'Hec' Busby dies aged 86

Sir Hekenukumai Busby KNZM MBE has passed away aged 86.

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'Hek' as he was affectionately known, was known for his revival of traditional canoe techniques. Source: 1 NEWS

'Hec', as he was affectionately known, 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.

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

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

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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The 85-year-old dedicated the Queen’s Birthday Honour to his late wife. Source: 1 NEWS

Busby was knighted at Waitangi this year, with more than 1000 people present to witness, and was

He married for the first time at the age of 18, fathering ten children before the marriage ended.