“We’re up at Far North, that’s what they call it here and it’s more the north half of the North Island at Te Aurere, which is Uncle Hector Busby’s place,” says Moani Hemuli, a crewmember of the Worldwide Voyage.
“Uncle Hector is an amazing person. He started off as a bridge builder and all of the bridges that we drove over to come to his place, he built all of those. But then he kind of stopped because there were no more bridges to build,” she continues to say.“Then he continued on as a bridge builder in a different way and he started building waka. His bridges became longer being that he could sail to these far places like Rapanui on a Waka Tapu voyage.”
Far, yet familiar places, reconnecting ʻohana waʻa throughout the Pacific. To have a waka of their own was a dream that Māori elder, Sir. James Henare had for Aotearoa after greeting Hōkūleʻa for the first time in Waitangi back in 1985.
Uncle Hector Busby took on the responsibility of creating such a waka for his own people.
“When we started the canoe, Nainoa, the Hawaiians were here, the Rarotongans were here and this old kaumātua Huata was his name, he did the, he did the pule for that morning,” says Uncle Hector Busby. “What he did was he handed each, a part of the pule to every islander here that’s when I started on, on Te Aurere.”
“Looking back I think for me anyhow, I’m really satisfied that did I turn from bridge building to waka building. But, as we all know, if it wasn’t for Hōkūleʻa it would never have happened,” he continues to say.
Te Aurere is made up almost entirely of Kauri wood, which is a native tree of Aotearoa. However, similar to our Koa trees here in Hawaiʻi, the Kauri are becoming harder to come by.
When you do stand in the presence of the Kauri tree though, it is an experience to remember. “They’re huge, amazing, awesome trees we’ve seen Tanemahuta, which is one of the biggest last trees and it takes thousands of years for these trees to grow and it’s similar to our koa trees back home in Hawaiʻi because of introduced species and invasive species, we’re losing them. And it’s the same thing here with the Kauri,” says Moani. “The Kauri trees are being eaten by a certain bug from the inside and it’s rotting.”
After being on land for almost a year, Te Aurere is touched by the healing hands of the Worldwide Voyage crew whose mission of Mālama Honua lead them straight to her. A project that would allow them to honor the Kauri trees and their ʻohana waʻa of Aotearoa.
“To see Te Aurere like this brings me back to when Hōkūleʻa was in her eighteen-month dry dock, where you know, she looked sad, but at the same time, we’re giving our mana back to her because she mālama’s us while we’re on the ocean,” continued Moani. “For us, it’s important to mālama Te Aurere because she is one of the bridges that will come to Hawaiʻi eventually.”
Click here to explore more about Aurere.