He Hekenga Tūhura (A Voyage of Discovery)

Revered Polynesian navigator and Māori leader, Sir Hekenukumai Pūhipi (Sir Hector Busby), passed away in 2019. During his final days ‘Sir Hek’ reflects on dedicating his life to the restoration of Māori seafaring traditions, sailing the ‘pacific triangle’ – linking Aotearoa (New Zealand), Hawaii and Rapa Nui/Easter Island – and attempting to preserve and revive a knowledge that is in danger of being forgotten.

He revisits the origins of those who inspired him, including the late Māori kaumatua Sir James Henare, the Hawaiian navigators from the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the late Micronesian master navigator Mau Piailug. A conversation of an extraordinary life in full te reo Māori.

Director’s Statement

his documentary has been an emotional journey for all involved – it took quite a turn for us as a team when our key talent Sir Hector Busby passed away during filming, we were very lucky to get his last ever interview. Sir Hector was also my uncle, so it was incredibly emotional bringing my profession, my family and my culture together in this film. What I hoped to convey was an emotional piece that really sets the stakes of this man’s legacy and (and the affect he had on indigenous peoples world wide) where he sees waka building and celestial navigation going in the future. Our main driving question is/was “what does the future of traditional pacific navigation look like”. An important question for today’s technological world. Essentially, does it have a place at all?

Our family lost Hector’s brother Monty, in 2018. I was very close with Uncle Monty and it was a total shock to have lost him. With him we lost a vast amount of family and Māori knowledge. When he was in the hospital he called up Hector and said “Allan’s coming to film you” then passed me the phone, Hector’s response was “Who’s Allan?”. I’ll never forget that. But in all seriousness, after losing a Monty I knew I had to get Hector’s story on camera. And that’s exactly what I did.

I knew Uncle Monty was with me the whole way.

Sir/Uncle Hec has become well known around the world. Recently with his ‘nearly doomed’ waka school receiving new funding, now it is time for us to look to the future to see who will be continuing his work in revitalising waka traditions in the years to come, right here, in Aotearoa.

We are very proud to say that this documentary is literally one of a kind and is going to be in 100% Te Reo Maori. As I’m still learning Te Reo, I worked closely with Moehau Hodges-Tai who is a friend and a filmmaker. Moehau graduated from the University of Waikato with a First Class Honours in Digital Cinema. He also completed his Bachelor of Media and Creative Technology double majoring in Te Reo Māori and Screen Media. Moehau is passionate about increasing visibility of Te Ao Māori and normalising Māori content in the media which is an approach which we have taken in creating this documentary.

Lastly I just want to say that I didn’t make this for me. I made this for all indigenous peoples, for the waka community and for my whānau/family. I just hope that both Monty and Hector are proud of what it is we have done.