12 Sep 2011

Ngapuhi waka builder says more big trees needed

7:20 am on 12 September 2011

Ngapuhi's master navigator Hekenukumai Busby says he can't find enough big trees to keep building waka.

The tohunga of the waka movement has built more than 30 waka since 1989 and is credited with reviving the art in Aotearoa.

He says he has plenty of orders from people wanting traditionally carved canoes but native timber from the big kauri and totara are getting harder to source.

Mr Busby says his plan is to appeal to the Minister of Conservation in the hope of obtaining some of the old kauri in Waipoua forest that have been dead for years.

He says he's happy to go on carving out canoes as long as his eyes and knees hold out, if he can get the wood.

Hekenukumai Busby, 79, built eight of the 20 waka that took part in the opening ceremony for the Rugby World Cup, including the Pacific voyaging canoe, Te Aurere.