Whale Rider has put Whangara on the international map - but locals are unsure about how to cope with extra visitors.

The tiny settlement, 29km north of Gisborne and 5km off the main highway, is attracting at least a dozen tourists a day, says resident Haereroa Gibson.

Whangara has no public toilets and only a marae, church and about a dozen homes.

Marae trustees will discuss the influx. Mrs Gibson, a trustee, said the visitors were mainly European - she had met couples from Switzerland and Germany - but Americans and New Zealand travellers were also keen to see where Whale Rider was filmed.

"They want to take photos of everything."

She said people were walking on to the marae, which raised issues of protocol because they had not been formally invited.

"But a lot of people don't know that. We've just got a big 'No Trespassing' sign on the fence but they just park in front of it and go through the gates."

The marae was busy last year between Labour Weekend and Easter, with schools and other groups using the facilities," said Mrs Gibson.

"It's just when there's something on and you have these people [tourists] walking around,"

The film's cultural adviser, Hone Taumaunu, who also lives at Whangara, told the Weekend Herald in January that visitors would have to be carefully monitored.

One possibility was to introduce marae visiting hours on some days of the week.

"There are stringent rules needed for movement on to marae. Popping in is out," he said.

"When you come to a marae it's not a place you jump over the fence and take photos."

Mrs Gibson said residents were asking to have "something put in place" to deal with the visitor influx.

"We really didn't think about it when the film was being made."

Herald Feature: Whale Rider