Hector Busby


Sir Hector Busby KNZM MBE (1 August 1932 – 11 May 2019), also known as Heke-nuku-mai-nga-iwi Puhipi and Hec Busby,[1] was a Māori navigator and traditional waka builder in New Zealand. He was recognized as a leading figure in the revival of traditional Polynesian navigation and ocean voyaging using wayfinding techniques.[2][3]

Hector Busby
Heke-nuku-mai-nga-iwi Puhipi
Sir Hec Busby (cropped).jpg
Busby in February 2019
Born(1932-08-01)August 1, 1932
DiedMay 11, 2019(2019-05-11) (aged 86)
Other namesSir Hector Busby, Hec Busby

He built 26 traditional waka,[4] including the double-hulled Te Aurere which has sailed over 30,000 nautical miles in the Pacific including Hawaii, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island.[5] In December 2012, Te Aurere and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti (another waka built by Busby) reached Rapa Nui after a 5000-nautical-mile, four-month voyage from New Zealand.[6] The two waka then made the return journey to New Zealand, landing at Aurere Beach in Doubtless Bay in May 2013.[7]

Busby was of mixed Pākehā and Māori heritage. He was from the Māori tribes of Te Rarawa and Ngāti Kahu.


Busby received the New Zealand Commemoration Medal in 1990. In the 1994 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire, for services to the Māori people.[8] In the 2014 New Year Honours, Busby was named an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to Māori.[9] He was promoted to Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, also for services to Māori, in the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours.[10]


Busby died on 11 May 2019.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Waka builder Hekenukumai 'Hec' Busby made a Sir". Auckland Now. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Profile: Hekenukumai (Hector) Busby". Toi Māori Aotearoa. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  3. ^ "Waka Tapu Canoes". NZMACI & Taitokerau Tarai Waka. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  4. ^ "Hector Busby:waka builder". Radio New Zealand interview. 6 February 2010. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
  5. ^ "Hekenukumai Busby". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
  6. ^ "Waka end four-month voyage on Easter Island coast". The New Zealand Herald. APN News & Media. 5 December 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Waka welcomed home from epic journey". www.stuff.co.nz. 18 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  8. ^ "No. 53697". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 11 June 1994. p. 34.
  9. ^ "New Year honours list 2014". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 2018". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Master canoe builder Sir Hekenukumai 'Hec' Busby dies aged 86". 1NewsNow. TVNZ. 11 May 2019. Retrieved 11 May 2019.

External linksEdit

  • Sir Hekenukumai Busby discussed in Sir Hekenukumai Busby, 1932–2019, Morning Report on Radio New Zealand 13 May 2019
  • Sir Hekenukumai Busby interviewed and his work discussed in Ocean Voyaging, Te Ahi Kaa on Radio New Zealand 10 February 2019
  • Sir Hek Busby: 'He was the bridge builder of Oceania', interview with Toby Mills about his film on Busby, Sunday Morning on RNZ 14 November 2021