The Buddhists have a belief your actions and attitude for each of the first 12 days of the new year help determine what will happen for the corresponding next 12 months - so here goes my attitude of gratitude for Monday - the first day of the first month of the rest of my life

Local shopkeepers will have an attitude of gratitude today, here in the Bay, as 10,000 people flock into town from the four corners of the world.

The cruise ship market really is the jewel in the tourism crown and we need to start telling our own stories if we are to harness the full potential of these ocean-going oasis of opportunity.

Cruise it or lose it could be a worthwhile campaign for Tourism Tauranga and tangata whenua of Tauranga Moana.

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The good news LoCool story for my Monday month is the recognition of a friend, mentor and bridge-building Maori leader Colin Maungapohatu Bidois in this year New Year Honours.

With a mind sharper than Te Kooti's taiaha (war weapon) and a smile wider than the Moana of Tauranga, at 87 years young Colin comes from an era where a man's word was his handshake - and mana, not money, was the currency to measure life's successes.

Up to three days a week for three years I had the privilege of sitting in as Colin's scribe during our Treaty settlement negotiations and, having met many an influential mind in my colourful life lived in 33 countries, his was a mind guided by the wisdom of his ancestors, and his motives were purely empathetic to the injustices on his people by those long gone - and cannot and should not be invoiced to anyone living today.

Maori have come a long way from the dark days when Colin lived in downtown Tauranga and witnessed, as a young boy, the embarrassment of beautiful Kuia (old woman) who were denied the use of downtown toilets, reserved only for non-Maori.

By the time they had made it to his parents doorstep they had not being able to hold on any longer.

These inconvenient truths not recognised by the half dozen or so letter writers who hold on to the belief that Maori have always been treated equally in Aotearoa, have been the driving force behind Colin's endeavours over many decades to right these wrongs.

Another LoCool legend who has been honoured, with a mural and not a medal is Awanuiarangi Black, another Maori leader who had moved past grievance mode into one of building a bridge between Maori and non-Maori.

The huge mural splashed across the wall behind the Mount Medical centre by the master mural man Graeme Hoete, aka G Man, recently has already become a pilgrimage for those who knew and understood the legacy left by a worthy recipient of higher honours.

Both Maungapohatu (Colin) and Awanui understood - as did our dear late Aunty Maria Ngatai, also a recipient of the QSM award, the future for Maori would be built on long lasting relationships with our Caucasian cousins.

No one wants to listen to, nor will they learn from, what I call Ngati Whingers. The same can be said for the letter writers who bang the drum of Maori bashing for no other reason than their own ignorance and if we don't counter their korero - as another medal worthy recipient Peter Dey does, perception can open a door back to the dark days of ignorance.

If ever there was a lesson to be learned from what can be achieved by creating a Maori ward we need to look no further than our own regional council and its Maori seats.

The bridge building Awanui Black did during his two terms as Mauao representative have been walked across by many and I would be surprised if there was a single councillor who would echo the concerns of some poorly informed local letter writers.

Surely we have given their long lost crusade enough oxygen and they should find another kaupapa (cause) to hang their hat of unhappiness on.

For my two bobs-worth of bridge building, my New Year's LoCool honours list goes to Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber for walking his inclusive talk, to Peter Dey, and to every local community king pin who has taken the time to listen and learn from our recognised leaders and taken on the challenge to use more Te Reo in their daily korero.

Now that takes care of January today. Apopo - tomorrow I will work on February with some aqua exercise and wallow in the water off Shark Alley with the kids.

In 12 days from today my whole year will be mapped out according to the fulla with the big puku Matua Buddha.

Pai Marire ki te tauhou – Peace to you all for the coming year.
Broblack@xtra.co.nz

Tommy Kapai is a best selling 'LoCool' writer.