Namakaliiokalanipaihi Barclay Kerr
Namaka Kerr at the dawn ceremony for the Centenary commemoration of the Battle of Passchendaele, Menin Gate, Belgium 2017. Photograph: firstname.lastname@example.org
Born in Waikato 6th September 1988, Namaka is the eldest son of well-known waka leader Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr. He was raised in Te Kura Kaupapa o Toku Mapihi Maurea, until his departure to Hawaii for three years as a secondary student at Ke Kula `Ō Nāwahī’ okalani’ōpu’u.
Namaka Barclay-Kerr says he was born into waka. His first time on the waka was as a tīheru (bailer) at the age of five on Taheretikiti from Tūrangawaewae. However, his first time as a kaihoe was a journey to Maketū paddling for his father. Involvement in waka from such a young age has created a passion within Namaka and a natural appreciation and curiosity for waka practises maintained by many cultures around the world.
After graduating secondary school, he enrolled in Waikato University and graduated with a Bachelor of Art in 2010. He returned to Waikato University in 2013 to pursue in a career of teaching, he graduated with a diploma in 2014.
Namaka has three children in his lifetime, his first-born child was Te Whare Hukahuka o Tangaroa but sadly passed away in 2010, six weeks after his birth. His second born was Tuunuil-aa-Rangi, he was born in 2011 and is turning eleven this year. The youngest child was named Rauwhero.
Like father like son, Tuunuil paddles Waka Ama for the club Te Toki. He is the kai-tīheru of the waka taua Taheretikitiki. Every now and then he will sail with his grandfather Hoturoa Kerr or with his uncle John-Reid, the captain of the waka hourua Haunui and Hinemoana.
Learning and training under the teachings of his father Hoturoa Kerr was difficult yet fruitful, serious yet entertaining time. Namaka refers to his life of waka as:
“I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I didn’t get to experience all those things
As a son and kaihoe, what truly mattered to him is his father’s wisdom, knowledge, and experience is shared and passed down to generation especially his sons. It is important to Namaka to teach his children what he learned, and what is better than the original source, Hoturoa Kerr introduced and taught Namaka’s son Tuunuil in the traditions and principles in all different waka types.
Hoturoa focuses his efforts into waka hourua traditions and practices. Namaka’s brother pursued Waka Ama, and Namaka primarily focused on waka taua and waka kōpapa.
Te Hono ki Aotearoa
Namaka was selected to represent Aotearoa as a kaihoe for two Te Hono Ki Aotearoa events: the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on the River Thames and the centennial commemoration of the Battle of Passchendaele, Belgium in 2017. Namaka also played a lead role in the presence of the waka tētēkura, Tahimana, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Germany in 2012, which was predominantly crewed by Dutch kaihoe from the Njord Royal Student Rowing Club.
When Namaka was selected as a kaihoe for Te Hono ki Aotearoa. He was required to partake in the wānanga, and trainings held in Waikato. Upon his arrival to the Waikato River, he was amazed at the level of respect all kaihoe had for each other. All kaihoe sharing their knowledge, techniques, and experiences with each other.
Training is important for the success of Waka in international events. Namaka states Waka has high physical demands, and mental strength as well as moving as a unit on the waka.
“I enjoy being out on the open ocean, racing, and doing cultural waka activities like big ceremonies at Waitangi and the Coronation. I enjoy reliving and doing something that our ancestors used to do before us.”
Namaka reveals the development of trainings over the years for international events has improved in terms of knowledge of the Māori art forms, and practices around the waka. To prepare for the Queens Diamond Jubilee, the wānanga and trainings were heavily invested in water training and kapa haka due to the long-distance paddle and performance. However, in 2017 preparing for the ceremonial commemoration of the World War 1 fallen soldiers, Namaka elaborates the wānanga focused on the representation of the waka and what it is identified to the Māori people.
Kaupapa Waka is a natural environment to further develop Te Reo Māori and tikanga Māori and Namaka takes advantage of this opportunity to fully utilise Te Reo and learn more about the history and significance of Waka taua. He is proud to carry on the traditions to the next generation.
Before departing Aotearoa to Belgium in 2017. Namaka Kerr was offered a teaching position in his childhood primary school at Te Kura Kaupapa o Toku Mapihi Maurea. Namaka Kerr’s perspective on the Prime Ministers pledge to include waka into school’s curriculum is a good contribution to the course of action to revive Māori art forms. Most schools include Waka Ama into school’s activities, but disregard the Waka taua, Waka hourua, and all the Waka history, significance, and traditions.
Queens Diamond Jubilee, London, UK 2012
Frankfurt, Germany 2012