When a double-hulled waka left Tahiti to mark 250 years of Captain Cook's landing in New Zealand it carried a mauri stone to honour Northland's own master navigator, Sir Hek Busby.

As the Tuia 250 voyage began from Tahiti yesterday a large part of the ceremony honoured Sir Hek Busby's waka legacy.

The crew of Fa'afaite, the Tahitian canoe, are carrying a mauri stone honouring Busby's efforts to revive Pacific waka sailing and they left at the same time as the master waka carver and navigator was honoured at Tūrangawaewae Marae in Waikato.

Tuia 250 marks 250 years since Māori and Pākehā, under Captain Cook, first met on land.

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The moment of departure of the double-hulled canoe from Tahiti to New Zealand was a very special moment, Tuia 250 National Co-ordinating Committee Co-Chairs Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr and Dame Jenny Shipley, who were there for the departure, said.

Hekenukumai Busby (Puhipi) was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM) in the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours. He died on May 11, this year, aged 86.

"The voyage will align with the exact time the honouring of the late Sir Hekenukumai Busby will take place at Tūrangawaewae Marae in Waikato," Barclay-Kerr said.

"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."

Shiply was 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," she said.

The mauri stone honouring Sir Hek Busby that is being carried by the crew of the Tahitian canoe Fa'afaite, which left the island yesterday on a voyage to NZ for the Tuia 250 commemorations.
The mauri stone honouring Sir Hek Busby that is being carried by the crew of the Tahitian canoe Fa'afaite, which left the island yesterday on a voyage to NZ for the Tuia 250 commemorations.

"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.''

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

The arrival ceremony will be broadcast live to the nation on the day and 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.

People can 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 www.tuia250.nz.