Hawaiki Rising | About Us
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About Us


Hawaiki” the source and homeland of Māori and Pacific people and culture.
“Rising” the empowerment that arises from knowing who you are.

The Hawaiki Rising Voyaging Trust was established with the vision of connecting young people with Māori and Pacific culture, the natural world and ultimately themselves. In 2014 The trust was privileged to acquire the waka ‘Hinemoana’ as the vessel for strengthening our people and our communities.


Patrick Mohi

Trustee/Waka Project Leader/Skipper

Since the age of ten, Pat has helped train thousands of rangatahi (youth) in the ancient art form of taiaha on Rotorua’s Mokoia Island. Pat credits his grounding in te ao Māori (the Māori world) to his whānau and his father, who established the wānanga mau taiaha (taiaha school) 35 years ago to revive the tradition as a vessel for youth development. Pat has delivered kaupapa Māori programmes to tertiary institutions, schools, special education providers, marae and prisons. He has a degree in psychology and Māori development, and for the past 10 years has worked with the Dept. of Corrections using Māori paradigms as a tool for inmate rehabilitation. Currently Pat runs a courtreferred youth programme for his iwi, holds multiple trustee positions, is the deputy chair of the Ngāti Rangiwewehi Authority, and a member of the Rotorua Police Advisory Board. Pat’s driving force is his whānau, and when he is not sailing or diving can be found at his home in Rotorua with his grandchildren.

Whakarongotai Hokowhitu

Voyage Coordinator

Whakarongotai has an extensive background in Maori education with over twenty years’ experience in kohanga reo and the primary and tertiary sectors. Her role is to work with voyagers and their families from the registration phase to the return of the voyage. She assists families with funding applications and ensures the youths are prepared for the voyage, are safe and get the most out of their experience. She also liaises with schools and community organisations who wish to nominate voyagers. As well as her Higher Diploma of Teaching, Whakarongotai has a Masters in Indigenous Studies (Otago). Whakarongotai’s love of waka extends also to waka ama and when she is not with her whanau she will often be competing or paddling with friends.

Gina Mohi

Trustee/Senior Crew

Gina holds a Master of Science degree, with a double major in Resource & Environmental Planning; and Earth Sciences. Gina has worked in this field for many years, and specialises in the area of Māori resource management to ensure that and traditional environmental pedagogies (i.e. principles and values of Kaitiakitanga) are integrated into resource management and environmental planning solutions. Gina has been actively involved in the affairs of Ngāti Rangiwewehi since 2003, particularly in the area of environmental management and restoration, and was instrumental in the development of the Ngāti Rangiwewehi Environmental Unit. Gina is currently a certified Independent RMA Hearing Commissioner and has sat on a number of complex resource consent hearings. Some of Gina’s extramural activities include traditional ocean voyaging (she has been an active crew member of voyaging canoe – Te Matau a Maui since 2011, and recently with Rangi in Tahiti), and is involved with a number of Māori trusts, either as a trustee or technical advisor on resource management matters.

Wendy Robertson

Sponsorship and Operations Coordinator

Wendy’s role is to seek funding for the running of the organisation and to assist with voyaging costs to keep the cost to youths to a minimum.  Wendy is also responsible for the administrative and health and safety requirements of the organisation.
She has a Diploma in Business Management and is working on a diploma in Not for Profit Management. As well as owning her own business, she has 20 years’ experience working in the charitable sector including roles in Blue Light and Te Aranui Youth Trust and governance roles in a number of organisations.

Steven Saunders


Steven Saunders (Ngāti Ranginui) has 32 years’ experience in the Horticultural sector and is the founder, owner and Managing Director of the Plus Group of companies, specialising in horticultural technology. The Plus Group and the Saunders Family Trust has a strong history of supporting New Zealand based research and development activities and startup tech companies.

Steven is the co-founder of Newnham Park Innovation Centre in Te Puna, Tauranga, and a major stakeholder in the kiwifruit postharvest sector. He is an active Angel investor, a Seed Co Investment Fund (SCIF) Director and investor representative, a Director of a number of privately owned companies and tech startups, an elected member of the executive board for Priority One, an independent director Lincoln Hub, Agrigate, Rockit Global Limited, Māori Economic Development Advisory Board, a member of the Te Hono Stanford Primary sector Alumni, Nuku Ki Te Puku (Māori food and beverage cluster) and Te Tiro Toi Whakangao (Māori tech cluster).

Steven is a founder of “WNT Ventures” tech incubator which was one of the 3 NZ Callaghan awarded private tech incubators and Plantech Tauranga’s recently awarded Regional Research Institute. Steven was awarded the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, Westpac “Business Leadership Award in 2014” and the Tauranga Boys College 2016 old boy award.

Simon McDonald


Simon came out from the UK 28 years ago after completing a dental degree and a master’s degree in dental public health. In NZ he worked in dental education and health service management roles until starting his dental practice in Katikati in 1998. With a five year plan to “give up the day job” he focused on inventing a better dental mouse-­‐trap and the Triodent business was born.  Triodent started with $250K of capital and has resulted in more than $90m in export earnings since its inception 10 years ago and employs around 100 people. Simon was the CEO throughout. The company was sold to Dentsply, a large US owned multi-national company, in November 2013. He now has a company called Rhondium. Simon calls himself a “serial inventor” and has lodged over 90 patent applications. He lives in Katikati, Bay of Plenty with his family and has eight children.

The Pacific Voyaging Community

Pacific Voyagers

Te Matau a Maui

Okeanos Foundation

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Love Love Lovedddd everyday. Beautiful experience ... See MoreSee Less

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Day 8:
Some of the voyagers spotted another of their waka, Ngahiraka Mai I Tawhiti. They spent a good hour helping out with lashing uprights to the waka.

Ka tika hoki... nōu anō te waka.

Thanx Busby whānau 😊
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