Namakaliiokalanipaihi Barclay Kerr
Namaka is the eldest son of well-known waka leader Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr and was raised in kaupapa waka, which has created a passion and natural curiosity for waka practices maintained by different cultures around the world.
“I like being out on the open ocean, racing, and doing cultural waka activities like the big ceremonies at Waitangi and the British Queen’s Jubilee. I enjoy reliving and doing something that our ancestors used to do before us.”
Born in 1988, Namaka was first put into a waka at the age of five as a tīheru (bailer) for Taheretikitiki at Turangawaewae. He attended Te Kura Kaupapa o Toku Mapihi Maurea in Kirikiriroa and became a kaihoe for his father, their first voyage was to Maketū. After three years as a secondary student at Ke Kula `Ō Nāwahī’ okalani’ōpu’u in Hawaii, Namaka enrolled at Waikato University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 2010, diploma in teaching in 2014 and now works as a teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa o Toku Mapihi Maurea.
Reflecting on his privileged upbringing in kaupapa waka, Namaka described his father’s training as tough, disciplined and entertaining.
“I wouldn’t be the man I am if I didn’t get to experience all those things”
Despite the challenges, Namaka truly appreciates his father’s wisdom and experience, and deeply cares that this knowledge is passed to his child. Hoturoa has trained Namaka’s son, Tuunuil-aa-Rangi, who paddles waka ama for the whānau club, Te Toki, and is the kai-tīheru for Taheretikitiki. Every now and then Tuunuil will sail with his grandfather or with his uncle John-Reid, captain of the waka hourua Haunui and Hinemoana.
Namaka appreciates the softer relationship that Tuunuil enjoys with his grandfather, though rues, to some degree, that this method has achieved a similar result. Indeed, Namaka applies this attitude in his own teaching and committed to developing and improving what he has received.
Today Hoturoa is largely engaged with waka hourua traditions and practices, Namaka’s brother, Turanga, is kaihautu of Te Toki Waka Ama with Namaka primarily focussed on waka taua and waka kōpapa.
Namaka has been selected to represent Aotearoa as a kaihoe in Te Hono ki Aotearoa events: the 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on the River Thames and the centennial commemoration of the Battle of Passchendaele, Belgium in 2017.
In preparation for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, an 11-kilometre paddle in the tide path of the River Thames with 1,000 other vessels, Namaka attended kaihoe wānanga in Kirikiroa on the Waikato awa. Here, he was amazed at the level of respect conveyed between kaihoe from different iwi and regions, and their respective techniques and styles. The wānanga focussed on water training and kapa haka for overall conditioning to meet the high physical demands of the journey and develop cohesion among kaihoe.
For the 2017 centennial commemoration of the Battle of Passchendaele, however, kaihoe wānanga focussed just as much on tikanga, karakia and other dimensions of waka.
Namaka also played a lead role in the presence of the waka tētēkura, Tahimana, which is based in Leiden, The Netherlands, with Te Hono ki Aotearoa, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Germany in 2012, which was predominantly crewed by Dutch kaihoe from the Njord Royal Student Rowing Club.
Kaupapa Waka is a natural environment to further develop te reo me ona tikanga and Namaka takes advantage of this opportunity to fully utilise reo Māori and learn more about the history and significance of waka taua.
On the New Zealand Prime Minister’s pledge to include waka in the national school curriculum, Namaka sees this a making a positive contribution to Māori art development. He observes that many schools incorporate waka ama into student activities and would like to see more emphasis on waka hourua, waka taua and the history, traditions and significance of waka.
San Francisco 2005
Queens Diamond Jubilee 2012