Northland carvers travel to US to continue legacy Sir Busby's legacy

By Jessica Tyson

Five carvers from Northland are set to travel to the United States to build a waka in memory of renowned navigator and master waka builder, the late Sir Hekenukumai Busby.

Busby was originally invited to go on the trip before he passed away last month.

The five carvers, who were taught by Busy, will instead take his place and build the waka during the month-long visit to Seattle.

Master carver and Ngātokimatawhaorua kaihautū Joe Conrad says Busby's memory will be honoured throughout the trip.

"He is still alive in our hearts and in our thoughts.  I believe he is still here with us spiritually, giving guidance."

Those going on the trip include expert carver James Eruera and four carvers, including Billy Harrison and Haimona Brown.

The group will build the waka alongside others from the Suquamish tribe of Seattle including Benny Armstrong, who attended Sir Busby’s tangihanga last month.

Armstrong says it was an honour to be at the tangihanga to represent the other tribes of Washington that couldn't make the journey.

"We are all heartbroken in the US, from the waka culture over there."

Once complete, the new waka will launch in 2020 during the annual Tribal Canoe Journeys, which indigenous tribes from all around the world come together to attend.

The carvers are due to leave the country on Monday June 10.