Two members of a Dutch waka group are among mourners travelling to New Zealand to pay their final respects to Sir Hekenukumai Busby today.

Koos Wabeke and Peer van der List are founder members of the waka group at Leiden University's Njord Royal Student Rowing Club, which was set up in 2010 to crew and maintain the waka taua Te Hono ki Aotearoa.

The 14-metre fully carved waka, whose name translates as The Link to New Zealand, was built by Busby at Aurere in Doubtless Bay for Museum Volkenkunde, the Dutch national ethnology museum. He also built them a waka tete called Tāhimana (Tasman) for training purposes.

Wabeke said the group was saddened and shocked by the sudden loss of Busby at the weekend.

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''He's the one who built our waka but, more importantly, he's the one that trusted us,'' he said.

''His culture and legacy is amazing, and he entrusted that to a bunch of students halfway around the world. We will forever be grateful to him for that and honour him in any way possible, and honour the traditions and kaupapa.''

Dutch kaihoe (paddlers) Koos Wabeke, left, with Pieter Roorda at Waitangi Day celebrations in 2011. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Dutch kaihoe (paddlers) Koos Wabeke, left, with Pieter Roorda at Waitangi Day celebrations in 2011. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Other members of the waka group will perform their own haka at Museum Volkenkunde on Tuesday evening (Dutch time) in honour of Busby, which they will record for his family.

Haka Tangaroa was composed for the group by Toi Māori, the national Māori arts organisation.

Busby died in Kaitaia on Saturday aged 86. He is currently at Te Uri o Hina Marae at Pukepoto, near Kaitaia, where his final farewell will take place at 10am today.

Te Hono ki Aotearoa is used during special events all over Europe, including on the River Thames in 2012 for the Queen's diamond jubilee.

It is one of 52 waka built by Busby, who designed it specifically for the low bridges and tight turning spaces of Dutch canals, and is the only one based permanently in Europe.

Members of the Dutch waka group travel to Waitangi every year to upskill in paddling and tikanga Māori.