A watershed moment occured when he was taken to Hawaii and met Pinky and Roa Thompson. Their son Nainoa was leading the resurgence of Hawaiian voyaging traditions and Hotu spent time with him learning the arts of traditional navigation. Along the way he met and married his Hawaiian wife Kim and always his aim was to sail the oceans in a waka horua. When finally the time arrived and he took possession of the Waka Haunui he was ready, prepared and knew what was involved in not only traditional navigation but in maintaining and managing an ocean-going waka.
Haunui has been well and truly tested as has Hotu and his crew. The waka is now under his constant stewardship and along with training wayfinders he undertake educational programmes for schools. The demand for educational trips and for guest appearances has grown hugely and there is increasing demand for the waka to be made available to the visitor industry. This is where the thread of Hotu’s story comes together with that of John Panoho and the two have joined forces to create Waka Quest and develop tourism and leadership training as a business enterprise.