Waka hourua, Te Aurere will be restored at the Kupe Waka Centre

Waka Centre development underway in Aotearoa

Construction of the Kupe Wake Centre at Aurere in Doubtless Bay, Northland will go ahead this year with the recent signing of a $4.3 million contract between Arawai Ltd and the New Zealand government’s Provincial Growth Fund.

The project will fulfil the vision that the late kaumatua, Sir Hek Busby had, of a centre that makes kaupapa waka available to all. Sir Hek, who passed away in May 2019, led the revival of waka building, ocean voyaging and traditional navigation in Aotearoa over the last 30 years.

Kupe Waka Centre project manager, Dr Peter Phillips acknowledged the support of PGF…


Protecting a threatened species

Protection for the Kaka on the mainland of Aotearoa New Zealand is essential to their survival.

Kaka in flight (Photo: Noel Chignell)

Our forest parrot, Nestor meridionalis, requires mainland sanctuaries that are surrounded by a well-designed and maintained predator proof fence or with a volunteer army of people doing efficient mammalian pest control, and preferably both.

Stoats, rats, possums and cats are the big four pests, and Kaka are most vulnerable at nesting when these pests kill Kaka eggs, chicks and adult females caring for the nest.

Kaka are hole-nesters, choosing to modify natural crevices in the trucks of large, mature native…


A Lammergeier cruises past taking a close look at us.

On a high mountain pass in the Pyrenees, a massive Lammergeier cruises among the peaks towards our group of birders.

Someone shouts out the sighting, “large raptor nine o’clock” and lunches are abandoned as everyone focusses on the bird.

Our guide scrambles to get a telescope set up for his guests and then to focus the heavy zoom lens on the raptor, cruising thousands of metres up among these peaks.

Excitement mounts as the Lammergeier’s ID is confirmed, and Gypaetus barbatus flys towards us on its huge wingspan. We are somewhere high on the Spanish-French mountain border in the Pyrenees.


Community tree planting benefits the environment and participants.

Do you believe it’s worth making a better world where both humans and ecological systems can flourish ?

If you do, then you may enjoy ‘Psychology For A Better World’, published by University of Auckland Associate Professor of Psychology, Niki Harre´.

Her book, sub-titled ‘ Strategies to Inspire Sustainability’, is based on the latest research in psychology and is packed full of action strategies.

Positive Emotions And Creativity

Nikki offers new ways to think about how people interact in social settings, about why people are tempted to stick with the familiar, and about how the same characteristics that keep people…


Hawaiian navigator and voyaging leader Nainoa Thompson of the Polynesian Voyaging Society is a vital influence for the Kupe Waka Centre at Aurere in Northland.

None of this could have happened without that first visit of the waka hourua, Hōkūleʻa in 1985, and the impact this had on the late Sir Hekenukimai Ngaiwi Puhipi Busby, says Centre development manager, Peter Phillips.

Visiting Hawaiian, Ngāti Ruawāhia members and local kaupapa waka supporters gather outside the Whare Wananga at Aurere for the dedication ceremony and its naming by Sir Hek, as “Whetū Mārama”.

In 1983, in preparation for the Voyage of Rediscovery, a young Nainoa was anxious to learn the stars of the southern hemisphere.

Guided by John Rangihau, Nainoa made his way to Aurere where he met then bridge-builder, Hek Busby…


Te Aurere under sail in Pomare Bay, near Waitangi.

Sustainability is one of the key themes woven into the design and development of the Kupe Waka Centre, at Aurere in Northland.

Everything starts from ensuring the mana of the site and protecting its iconic status.

We don’t want to overload the site with development, such that the very qualities that make it what it is, are destroyed, says Kupe Waka Centre project manager, Dr Peter Phillips.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the national and international economy has changed the way the Centre will operate.

The lockdown has also allowed the project designers to make sure that what…


Kaka feeding on nectar in flax flowers.

What do Kaka feed on? … It depends on the season.

New Zealand’s endemic Kaka parrot depends most on the native puriri tree for it’s nourishment in the northern half of the country.

Analysis of hundreds of Kaka sighting reports sent in by Kaka enthusiasts and the public, has shown that Kaka are seen and reported in puriri trees more often than in any other single type of tree — native or exotic.

This applies to sightings of North Island Kaka (Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis), in the top half of the North Island, as reported by observers to the KakawatchNZ network.


The Kura parakeet favours woodlands, banana and coconut plantations, and native makatea forest on Atiu.

Atiu, or “Enua manu” the land of birds, is a great place for bird watching and is an easy domestic flight from Rarotonga or Aitutaki in the Cook Islands.

Atiu is the third largest island in the Cooks. It has lush valleys of forest growing on old coral reef or makatea, that lead up onto a raised plateau covering most of the island. All five villages on the island are located up on this plateau.

It’s a great place for walking and exploring with little traffic or tourism development, and several local tour operators offering birding, nature and cultural tours…


You can see the rare Wrybill at Miranda near Auckland one of the many shorebirds that visit this coast. Wrybill are endemic to New Zealand and the only bird with a bill that curves to the right, adapted to forage under river stones in its southern breeding grounds.

New Zealand’s rare wader, the Wrybill, is one of the most sought after species to see at Miranda on the Firth of Thames coast, near Auckland in New Zealand.

Miranda (about an hour’s drive southeast of the Auckland CBD), has drawn bird watchers to its coastline for more than 100 years. It is known internationally as one of the top wader watching spots in New Zealand.

Wrybill can be seen on the coast there in flocks of 20–2000+ depending on the season.

These tiny, endemic waders — the only bird with a bill that turns to the right — draw…


Walking Rarotonga’s Cross-Island Trek

‘The Needle’ is an iconic landmark on Rarotonga’s Cross-Island Trek.

When international travel is possible again, a visit to the South Pacific island of Rarotonga is highly recommended for its peace, warmth and beauty.

Relax on the beautiful sandy beaches or if you are feeling more energetic, the cross island trek is a worthy challenge!

The track across the rugged, upland centre of Rarotonga, takes in the striking rocky volcanic plug, Te Rua Manga, (the Needle, 413m), and offers great views.

Rarotonga’s Cross-Island Trek takes about 3–4 hours to cross from north to south, and finishes at Papua (or Wigmore’s) Falls, a small cascade and pool…

Suzi Phillips

Journalist, adventurer, nature lover

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