National | News

Rangatahi get rare opportunity to learn history of their tūpuna

This week marked the closing of Tuia 250, a 10-week long waka voyage which gave hundreds of young kauhoe (crew members) the opportunity to learn about the history of their tūpuna.

Around 400 kauhoe took part in the voyage, which visited 14 locations around New Zealand, to acknowledge and educate people about the first onshore encounters between Māori and Pākehā.

Descendants of Hekenukumai Puhipi Busby took part in the voyage in his waka hourua Ngāhiraka Mai Tawhiti, including 16-year-old Mahina Busby.

She says it was a privilege for her sail on the waka.

"This waka is one of the last traditional built, held together literally by rope. It's an honour because this is made by the man himself Tā Hekenukumai, and his legacy carries on through this canoe."

One of the rangatahi who sailed on the Tahitian waka Fa'afaite said he had the opportunity to learn more about his two tūpuna, Tupaea and Māui.

Tupaia sailed with Cook on the Endeavour which arrived at Meretoto in Queen Charlotte Sound in 1770.

“Tuia 250 for me is a big privilege because we can learn everything about the navigation, but not only navigation but as well as the story about our tūpuna. So it’s nice for me to learn that and share with our people of French Polynesia," the rangatahi says.

“When we were in Wairau Bar, it was the first place that our tūpuna came to so it was really emotional for us.”

Turoa Kohatu from Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Tony Masters of Aitutaki are two members of the Haunui waka haurua who were able to sail on the Endeavour.

Masters says joining the crew of the Endeavour paid homage to his ancestor.

"I just felt like a bit of a Tupaea on the waka, feeling that experience. What was Tupaea feeling you know when he was on the waka?"

Although the Endeavour and the waka haurua may have differences, being able to discuss, share and learn are what was important for the two.

"It's kind of hard to describe the feelings you get when you're out on the ocean. Like for me, when I'm on the waka, the waka speaks to you and you've got to feel the waka. On the Endeavour it speaks a different language," Kohatu says.

"Looking at the Endeavour all my life, looking at the 50 cent coin, growing up you always wondered what was this waka?' And then as you get older, you start to find out what it truly was," Masters says.

Kohatu says, "There are some ups with this waka and some downs, but I mean every waka is different and I guess you have to come on board with an open mind and just be ready to adapt."

Another rangatahi said she enjoyed learning about the history of each waka.

“He pai ki au ngā korero a mō Pou i te Whangaparaoa me ngā kō  rero mo ngā whetu, tō rātou whetu ko Kopa. Kāore ano i mohio ko hea Kopa i te rangi. Inaeanei, kei te mohio.”

Her hope is that the stories will continue to be told.

“Ko te mea pai ki au, e korerotia ana ngā korero. Mā te korero, ka ora.”