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Master Waka Builder is 2012 Northland Sailor of the Year

0800 002 004 | www.nrc.govt.nz Putting Northland first

Date: 22 March, 2013

Master Waka Builder is 2012 Northland Sailor of the Year

Master Far North waka builder and traditional navigator Hekenukumai Puhipi (Hector Busby) has been named the Northland Sailor of the Year for 2012. (subs: crrct 2012)

The 80-year old sailor and community leader from Doubtless Bay was nominated for the annually presented Northland Regional Council award by council staff.

Northland Regional Council Chairman Craig Brown says Mr Busby’s passion for – and contribution to – waka culture both in New Zealand and around the Pacific embody what the Sailor of the Year award is all about.

Over his long career Mr Busby has built at least 30 waka, including several waka hourua (double-hulled sailing waka). He has sailed more than 30,000 nautical miles around the Pacific in his ocean-going waka hourua Te Aurere, using only traditional navigational techniques.

Mr Busby recently achieved his dream of closing the final corner of the ‘Polynesian triangle’ – formed by Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island – with a 5000 nautical mile voyage to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in 2012. Two waka hourua – Te Aurere and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti – made the journey.

At the arrival ceremony in Rapa Nui the expedition’s chief navigator, Jack Thatcher, commended Mr Busby’s significant contributions to waka culture and generosity in passing his navigational knowledge to others.

Craig Brown says that alongside his sailing achievements Mr Busby stands out as a community leader who has brought together youth, elders, communities and even nations.

His contributions to the community have been recognised through several previous awards including the New Zealand Commemoration Medal (1990) and an MBE (1994).

Mr Busby says Te Aurere and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti are due to begin their return voyage to New Zealand shortly and even though he won’t be with them physically, he will be with them in spirit.

“When the waka are on the water, don’t interrupt (me) as I’m with them the whole time.”

Mr Busby says as well as eagerly looking forward to the return of the waka, he is also planning to open a carving school in Doubtless Bay later this year.

It will be available to anyone who is interested, including young people, whom he greatly enjoys working with and “getting them back on the right track”.

The school will have three main areas of learning; waka building, carving and sailing and navigation using the stars.

Meanwhile, Mr Brown says the trophy Mr Busby received at a ceremony in Kaikohe this week (subs: Thursday 21 March) was first presented by the now defunct Whangarei Harbour Board in 1964.

Originally known as the ‘Northland Blue Water Trophy’, it was rededicated the Northland Sailor of the Year trophy in 1995 by the Northland Regional Council.

The Sailor of the Year award can be made “for all or any acts or services, which either directly or indirectly have the effect of promotion, advancement or betterment of the sport of yachting”.

These include:

• Design and building of boats.
• Administrative services to the sport on a regular basis
• Outstanding examples of seamanship or sailing ability in both competitive and non-competitive spheres.
• Outstanding examples of sportsmanship.
• Services in the promotion and encouragement of active participation in the sport of yachting.

Hekenukumai (Hector) Busby with the official Northland Sailor of the Year trophy (in glass case at rear) presented to him in Kaikohe by the Northland Regional Council this week. (subs: Thu 21 March) This cased trophy is handed on to a new Northland Sailor of the Year annually; Mr Busby is pictured holding a wooden trophy that he will keep permanently to mark his achievement.


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