Te Aurere is a waka hourua (a canoe with two hulls) built in 1991-2 along traditional lines, from two giant kauri trees from the Herekino State Forest.  Not one nail or bolt was used in the construction as the waka was lashed together in the age-old manner, although for safety and durability, modern fibres were used in the lashing.  More

Te Aurere was built at Aurere in Doubtless Bay by Hekenukumai Puhipi (Hector Busby) MBE.  Hekenukumai is recognised around the Pacific as one of the leading master carvers of traditional waka.  Working first on the refurbishment of Ngatokimatawhaorua, Hekenukumai has built over 30 waka most since 2000 with Hemi Eruera.  More

Depending on the how far the waka is sailing, Te Aurere typically has a crew of between eight and 12 including the captain and navigator who guides the waka using the methods of traditional wayfinding.  In keeping with tradition there are no winches or other mechanical aids - sailing the waka is a combination of skill with some brute force!

Te Aurere’s first voyage was the 1,700 nautical mile trip to Rarotonga for the South Pacific Arts Festival in October 1992.  Te Aurere has now sailed over 30,000 nautical miles, including a voyage from Tahiti to the Marquesas and then on to Hawai’i.  In 2012-13 Te Aurere and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti made a 10 month return voyage to Rapanui.  More

Celestial navigation is a key part of traditional wayfinding used by the ancient Polynesians to populate the Pacific.  Wayfinding uses the stars, sun, wave action, ocean currents, wind and birds to make the long passages across the Pacific.  Hekenukumai, Jack Thatcher and Piripi Evans have received a traditional award as master navigators.  More


In December 1985 the Hawai’ian waka Hōkūle'a arrived Aotearoa as part of its Voyage of Rediscovery.  During the powhiri for the crew of Hōkūle'a, the esteemed leader Sir James Henare said that he hoped that one day in the near future a waka would be built in Tai Tokerau that would go back to where Maori came from.  Te Aurere is the waka that fulfilled that dream when it sailed to Rarotonga in 1992.

Click here for a sketch diagram of Te Aurere with the main parts named in Maori and English. 


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Sails work by “catching the wind” only when the boat is sailing directly downwind. The rest of the time, a sail is much like an airplane wing standing on end, and it works the same way. The steering paddle is used to counteract the tendency of the waka to turn up into the wind which results from the balance of the sails and hulls.  More

The waka is captained by Stanley Conrad whose first ocean sail was on the Hawai’ian waka Hokule’a in 1985.  Stanley is one of the foremost captains of traditional ocean-going, double-hull canoes in the Pacific and the most experienced captain of these vessels in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Te Aurere’s navigator is Jack Thatcher. He is one of only three navigators in Aotearoa (and a handful across the Pacific) to be recognised as a master navigator by Mau Piailug.  He is active in all forms of waka including waka taua, waka ama and waka hourua.  Jack is based in Tauranga and has the waka hourua Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti as a training waka.

Te Aurere has featured in a number of television programmes.  Notable amongst these has been the BBC’s “Monsters we met” where Hekenukumai and the actors of the programme, supported by member of the crew, re-enacted the arrival of Maori in Aotearoa-New Zealand.  This was filmed at Cathedral Cove, Whitianga.  More  

While a traditional-style vessel, Te Aurere is fully equipped with modern safety gear and certified by the Maritime Safety Authority under the Safe Ship Management programme.  SSM covers the waka while it is in coastal waters.  On a voyage the waka temporarily leaves the SSM regime and sails under a Category 1 rating. 

Te Aurere is navigated using traditional wayfinding techniques but it is valuable for those onshore to be able to check the progress of the waka.  The waka has a satellite phone which transmits location data to this website.  Click here to see where the waka is when it’s away from Auckland.  Click here to see recent sails in Auckland.

Click here to download the “Te Aurere Fact Sheet.”