Māori Youth Sail Into Cultural History

Over 10 episodes, Austin Bosch (21), Keanu Townsend (22), and Rickylee Russell-Waipuka (20) will join the crew of Haunui waka as they circumnavigate the North Island.  At the end of the trip one of them will win a place to sail to the Cook Islands.  

Led by waka expert Hoturoa Barclay – Kerr (Tainui) and skipper Frank Kawe (Ngāti Kahungunu), the trio will be mentored in the ancient laws of voyaging - navigation using stars, swell and sea life, alongside the demanding tasks of boat handling.

Six weeks away from the comforts of home, the three young sailors will be living in close confines with 16 other crew with no running water and intermittent mobile phone connection. 

 “Life on the waka is hard,” says Waka Warriors director Anna Marbrook.  “Accommodation is dark and cramped. On deck, you’re pretty exposed. You’re either working, or you’re crashed out on your bunk. There is not a lot in between.

“We’re going to see our rangatahi grow, both as individuals and as a team.”

Of the three sailors-in-training, Keanu (Ngāti Whātua, Ngā Puhi) is the quiet one. He likes rap music, making art and doing bombs at the Mt Maunganui wharf.  In contrast, Rickylee (Ngāti Kahungunu, Raukawa) is gregarious and outgoing.

With a background in acting, Rickylee, who played Chardonnay in the movie Boy, loves to dance, do kapa haka and travel. In between these two extremes is Austin (Ngā Puhi).  A hard worker who was raised in the Far North, he loves the ocean and can fillet a fish in minutes. 

There are laughs, tears and wild ideas as the tiny world aboard Haunui waka serves up countless situations to challenge their comfort zones.

Tune in to Waka Warriors, 8.00pm on Monday, July 6.

For interviews, images or further information contact:

Lauren Mentjox
Kaiwhakaputa Matua
Senior Publicist
Māori Television
DDI         +64 9 539 7108