Thousands arrive to farewell Sir Hekenukumai Puhipi

By Raniera Harrison

An estimated thousand mourners have descended on the funeral for Sir Hekenukumai Puhipi have arrived at Te Uri o Hina today

Crossing the sacred path of Tū to confirm first-hand, Sir Hekenukumai has returned home

"He didn't have a concept of 'can't', that's how he truly was and he exemplified that to us" says chairman of Te Runanga o Te Rarawa, Haami Piripi - a longtime student of Busby.

The multitudes continue to descend on the prized kotuku feather of Te Rārawa, Sir Hekenukumai Puhipi

Spokespeople from around the country mourning the loss of the amount of knowledge lost

"This man was not human, he was of another realm. He was not human, he was divine because of the way in which he showed humility" says Ngāti Awa leader, Pouroto Ngaropo.

One of Busby's longest serving students, who learnt for 40 years, says discussions are taking place

"I'm currently speaking with the bereaved family to discuss whether we can transport our grandfather on a waka to his final resting place" says captain of Ngātokimatawhaorua, Joe Conrad.

The funeral details confirmed by leaders of Te Uri o Hina still stand, at 11:00am on Wednesday morning, the waka of Sir Hekenukumai Puhipi will be transported here to Rangihoukaha, where he will be interred next to his late wife, Lady Hilda Busby.

"It won't be long, the waka will arrive" adds Conrad.

Amongst the plethora welcomed today were the thoughts of the King, Tuheitia Pōtatau Te Wherowhero VII

"The King has sent his eldest son to represent him here. This leader engaged with the Kingitanga to have our repository of knowledge, Hone Haunui formally bless the voyaging canoe, Ngāhiraka" says Kingitanga spokesman, Rahui Papa.

Numerous Pacific Island delegations have confirmed they will arrive tomorrow to grieve the man being remembered as having reconnected people across the ocean.

"If we can keep his legacy it will be that, we'll celebrate the blue water voyaging capabilities of the Māori, and every New Zealander will know that it is our heritage" adds former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Dame Jenny Shipley.

Locals here say they'll continue preparations to give our esteemed leader the best possible send-off he deserves.