Tributes have been flowing for Sir Hekenukumai Busby since his passing yesterday afternoon in Kaitāia Hospital.
Former Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell and Professor Taiarahia Black are both in Italy with a group called He Rau Mahara.
The group left on Friday to attend the 75th anniversary of the battle at Monte Cassino. They pay tribute to a man who brought waka-building, sailing and navigation back to life among the Māori people.
Flavell says, "I am shocked to hear about this, following the recent passing of Te Wharehuia (Milroy). Even though we are here remembering those of the 28th Māori Battalion and their campaign here, we too, pay our respects to those who we have lost at home and also here. I am saddened to hear about the passing of our expert, and knowledgeable elder of the North, and all he have passed on to the next generation of waka navigators and builders. He shared the knowledge he gained through his life and passed it on to the world."
"You are now set on your journey, facing the rising of the sun, you have gone now. From us here travelling around the different battle sites in Italy, we honour you for all the knowledge you have shared pertaining to traditional sailing across the Pacific," says Black.