Next week will be one year since Atea a Rangi star compass had the last of its 32 pou erected, completing the project.

The final placements also marked the end of a year-long collaborative project by Atea a Rangi Educational Trust, Te Matau a Maui Voyaging Trust and Hawke's Bay Regional Council (HBRC).

A dawn ceremony marked the completion of the Atea a Rangi star compass and waharoa (gateway) at the Waitangi Regional Park, Awatoto, Napier.
A dawn ceremony marked the completion of the Atea a Rangi star compass and waharoa (gateway) at the Waitangi Regional Park, Awatoto, Napier.

It is difficult to stand within Atea a Rangi and not feel a sense of pride in Maori culture.

Is it possible for inanimate objects to have mana, or perhaps it is wairua that emanates from the circle.

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The rock in the centre of the Atea a Rangi star compass at the Waitangi Regional Park, Awatoto, Napier.
The rock in the centre of the Atea a Rangi star compass at the Waitangi Regional Park, Awatoto, Napier.

Atea a Rangi is also a work of art, it has a sculptural quality and attractiveness.

And it tells a story - it's reason for being is not as a tourist attraction, but that is one of the many things it has become.

Toro Waaka this week called for more money to be invested in Maori tourism.

Waaka's CV tells its own story - a director on New Zealand Māori Tourism, chair of Hawke's Bay Māori Tourism, chair of the Ngati Pahauwera Development Trust, and a member of the Ministry of Social Development National Māori Innovation Reference Group.

His comments this week were in his capacity as a member of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's corporate and strategic committee.

Maori tourism has widespread benefits for local communities. Perhaps more far reaching than people realise.

Take a look up the Napier-Taupo highway and then keep heading north - Rotorua. A town where cultural tourism has social and economic benefits.

Rotorua is blessed with natural geothermal assets that attract visitors. But around those, the town has built tourist attractions that offer authentic Maori cultural experiences. These provide jobs and a sense of pride among locals.

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Rotorua is a town that does not have a lot of graffiti. Again, pride is a factor.

Teenagers in touch with their culture have a sense of identity which doesn't require them to seek recognition and pride by scrawling a "tag" on someone else's property.

It would be interesting to know if the Atea a Rangi star compass has ever been tagged or vandalised, because popular theory suggests Maori culture on public display in the form of pou or even artwork, commands respect, even from vandals.

Atea a Rangi tells a story of ancestral navigation, but it could viewed as a compass to guide people in modern day living.

It's not a bad place to visit, for any Ngāti Kahungunu wanting to connect with their culture.

Hawke's Bay has a strong connection with tourism.

The pou at Atea a Rangi at Awatoto near Napier mark the seasons of the year.
The pou at Atea a Rangi at Awatoto near Napier mark the seasons of the year.

And a massive opportunity, like Rotorua, to build cultural tourism around existing themes - in Hawke's Bay, for example, art deco architecture and our wine industry.

Maori tourism has unique, far reaching benefits too important to be ignored.

If there isn't already a waka that has been launched to drive such a project, there needs to be. Surely there are no shortage of smart, forward thinking paddlers?