Waka navigation community mourns Piripi Evans

By Tumamao Harawira

Piripi Evans, a Pākehā, who was long involved with ocean voyaging in the Far North has died. He was instrumental in the revitalisation of the art under Sir Hekenukumai Busby. He was mourned at Te Kauhanga Marae in Pēria and buried on Saturday.

“He was crucial in elevating Māori nautical navigation under the guidance of Hekenukumai Busby,” Jack Thatcher, captain of Te Aurere vessel says.

Mau Piailug from Satawal Island in the Pacific was a renowned Micronesian navigator and Evans was one of the few who travelled to the island to learn from the master.

"Piripi travelled across the Pacific Ocean. He was also fortunate to learn nautical navigation with experts like Hekenukumai Busby,” says Shane Jones.

Thatcher has fond memories of the time he spent with Evans out at sea.

Special memories

“On our first expedition after I had completed my first watch, I went to my quarters to swap with Piripi who was in my bed, only to find he had spewed up in my tent. I was like 'bro that smells',” Thatcher recalls.

His whānau continues to hold on to their memories of their beloved father.

“Our father was a humble man. He was compassionate and always provided for the whānau. His home was the sea, and he loved diving and fishing,” says Ngawaiata Evans, Piripi’s daughter.

Piripi leaves behind his wife, three children and many mokopuna.