Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr (Tainui) is the captain of the oceangoing waka Haunui. He is the son of Wharetoroa and Ngarungatapu Kerr, is married to Kim and has five children: Namaka, Turanga, Rangiiria, Noenoe and Hinemanu. Hoturoa has been sailing around the Pacific for more than thirty-five years. He paddles waka, sails waka, teaches waka.
Hoturoa grew up with his numerous elders who nurtured and cared for him on the many marae of Waikato. He is a native Māori speaker and spent the first six years of his life with the Tuhoe people in Rūātoki, where his parents taught at the Rūātoki District High School. He and his mother moved to Auckland when he was six years old, by this age he had learned only the Māori language. Hoturoa recalls how the children laughed and mocked him for his inability to speak English when he started school in Auckland.
He was educated at Onehunga High School and went on to study for a BA at the University of Auckland, and a Masters at Waikato University. His Master’s thesis investigated how the waka is a symbol of mana in the twenty-first century. He was a lecturer at Waikato University for over nineteen years. More recently he has specialised in education and leadership programmes that use the waka as a platform for learning and development.
Hoturoa is an orator on his marae at Kāwhia, the home of Haunui, and the ancient landing and settlement place of his ancestral waka, Tainui and his ancestor Hoturoa.
Ko taku tīpuna ko Meri Paora, te tuahine o Paratene Paora.
Nō Te Kaha.
Kua mate ōku mātua, me tētahi o āku tungane.
Nō Te Kaha au
Ko Kākāriki te maunga
Ko Mataruia te punawai
Ko Te Ehutu te tangata
Ko Tamahae te tekoteko
Ko Te Kaha te marae
Ko Paretuauroa Rata ahau
I have been involved with things waka for 25+ years. I met Hotu and Kim when I came to teachers college at Waikato University. Hotu was one of my lecturers. I did the waka course and tikanga course with him. Since then we have been colleagues, friends, and done lots of things together involving waka.
My first experience in nautical mahi was with a tall ship called The Spirit of Adventure. My tribal history talks about our people having ships, and our various hapū traded goods that sailed to Australia and back again. So I have a background in things nautical. We never did waka to any great extent in Te Kaha, so when I got involved I witnessed the excitement and the experiences that could be had with waka mahi and that is what inspired me to do this.
We took a group of rangatahi over to Hawai’i as part of our rangatahi waka programme that we facilitated many years ago. Four of us (me and three rangatahi) stayed and we were given the opportunity to night sail from Kawaehae to one of the Northern Islands across the Molokai channel. It was amazing. It was the first time I had ever seen a waka hourua surf. There was a small harbour, barely visible off the island, and we surfed these waves in. We thought we would crash on this stoney beach, but we hung a left and shot through this gap. I was so drawn to the experience I wanted to go back out and do it again.
The best lesson I have learnt is to be very tolerant. I think I am a very patient person but there are things that happen with waka that are out of your control. So you must be tolerant when these things happen. Pick yourself and other people up, then go again.
Te Toki has been fortuitous, we have worked all these years with the goal of getting a waka. We tried like heck to figure out how to get it. Sometimes we'd deviate on tangents for different reasons, keeping in mind our ultimate end goal. Currently, as a trustee I am very happy with where Te Toki is. Also that both the waka ama and waka hourua activities are self-sustaining.
It still takes a bit of effort to get it done because we don’t pay people to be a part of these activities, in the future that might change. We as trustees did the majority of the work on our own in the past, however now as the trust builds on it’s capacity, we have had to find more professional support to maintain our growth and activities. Where do I see us moving along?
Us being just us, wanting to help people who are like minded, with our available resources I see us helping out all other voyaging/waka societies, having a good succession plan is the ultimate key. Helping the next generation grow in this mahi. I think we will still be around in the next 50 or so years. Maybe even 100 or so years. I think Te Toki will always be strong because there are strong people who tautoko the kaupapa. They have a community attitude. A strong succession team to the succession team currently in place will be a good future.
My father is a Saffery, my mother is a Kapū, my name is Kim. I grew up on The Big Island, in the Hawaiian Islands.
Mauna Kea and Haleakalā are my mountains
Te Moana-nui-ā-Kiwa is my ocean
Waka is a lifestyle in Hawai’i. It’s normal. Waka life in Hawai’i is the equivalent to rugby in New Zealand. Everyone was doing it. Because of that I joined in on different waka activities. But what inspired me was being with Hotu and the understanding that we wanted to build our own canoe club, and we did.
My waka experience was very limited before I met Hotu. My first time on a voyaging canoe was in 1976, which was on Hokulea. I joined the kaupapa more religiously after I gave birth to my first son, Namaka, in 1988. It was with waka kōpapa and waka ama. This was also when, as a Trust, we acquired our first waka ama, Paea, in 1989.
My greatest memory would be when I was on Hokulea. Spending time with Uncle Clay Bertleman and learning from him. We were taught so much. Next to these experiences would be watching all our tamariki progress through the 20+ years of Te Toki. I’ve learnt a lot of lessons, number one being that waka time makes you flexible.
The future of waka for me is the hopes that all waka programmes continue to exist for 200+ years. Long after the founding trustees have gone, for our mokopuna and the tamariki of those who are on currently on this journey with us.