Reknown waka builder and tohunga Hekenukumai Puhipi (also known as Hector Busby) has been the leading force to restore and prepare waka for the waka celebrations commemorating 170 years since Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed. It is also the 70th year since both Ngātokimatawhaorua waka were launched.

Hector Busby was given approval from Ngāi Tutearu of Otaua to restore the tupuna waka, Ngātokimatawhaorua.

The waka had been housed in Otaua for more than 50 years. The waka was farewelled by more than 200 people from Otaua on 18 September 2009 and traveled to Muriwhenua.

On 6 Feburary 2010, thousands of people crowded Te Tii Marae beach, tupuna waka Ngātokimatawhaorua (from Otaua) led the fleet of 22 waka to Te Korowai where the more reknown waka Ngātokimatawhaorua was waiting to be launched. This waka is reknown as it was the largest canoe in the world until 2006, and is named after the original Ngātokimatawhaorua.

Keringawai Evans, Te Kaiwhakarite for Te Puni Kōkiri Te Taitokerau worked closely with Hector Busby (master waka builder and navigator), and the people of Ngāi Tu, Ngāti Kahu and Whangaroa. “It has been a privilege to work with our kaumatua, kuia and rangatahi, as they have made this project successful,” says Keringawai.

The project involved three iwi working together as one, revitalising traditional practises with northern iwi and hapū. As new leadership emerged, young leaders were groomed in the old ways and challenged by the modern world.

Te Puni Kōkiri supported the kaupapa waka in preparations for Waitangi 2010, and continues to support kaupapa waka with the whānau and hapū in Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa and Ngāti Kahu.