I sailed to prove the tūpuna stories were true - Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr

By Bronson Perich

Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr has been named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in this year's Queen's Honours.

The master waka voyager, who has been sailing for over 35 years, says he started sailing because he wanted to prove that the stories of our voyaging ancestors were true.

“For me, it’s been this whole journey of trying to show people that the kōrero of my tūpuna is actual and it’s real,” he explains.

Barclay-Kerr learned about his voyaging tūpuna and then went to school, where those exploits were dismissed as accidents.

He later learned that there were Pacific peoples today who voyaged using traditional methods.

“If I ever get a chance, get on some of these waka and sail some of these journeys. Learn how our tūpuna did it, and be able to come home and say to people ‘well, you know, you can talk about it as if it’s a fairy tale if you want, but I’ve done it!” he says.

Having sailed across the Pacific using the ancient ways countless times, he has since passed this special knowledge and skills onto others.