A mauri stone was today placed at the centre of the platform being created for the navigation compass at Waitangi Regional Park.

The ceremonial placement, carried out by Te Matau a Māui Voyaging Trust director Piripi Smith, was witnessed by Te Matau a Māui Voyaging Trust members, project staff from Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Fulton Hogan and MWH Ltd.

"I sourced this stone from one of my voyages to islands in the Pacific. The stone comes from a centre of learning for traditional star-based navigation, so it's fitting to set it here in what we hope will become a waananga or learning place for Maori and others. Visitors here will experience the navigation compass, iconic pou, wetlands, planting and informative signs telling our rich stories," Mr Smith said.

The kaumatua leading the ceremony was Matiu Eru.

Advertisement

Regional councillor Rex Graham, a supporter of the project to enhance Waitangi, represented the governors of HBRC.

"This site is transforming. Soon we'll have a place of learning, to enjoy nature and experience the stunning Hawke's Bay coastline, celebrate Maori and settler history and the strong partnerships we are nurturing. I am delighted to be a part of this," says Cr Graham.

Access to the site has been restricted for public safety and to enable heavy construction to occur. The site will be closed to the public for four weeks immediately after Labour Weekend.

The project is fully visible to passing traffic. The current focus is on building the platform where a massive compass and positional pou will be erected, creating the carpark, access road and surrounding pathways.

Key elements of this project are expected to be complete in readiness for Waitangi Day 2017 celebrations.