An airport with a heart

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This week’s launch of Auckland Airport’s revamped Departures area was an uplifting occasion, writes our Special Correspondent Peter Dowling. Not only has the retail team led by Adrian Littlewood and Paul Divers done an outstanding job of creating a shopping experience that is of international standard while preserving a funky Kiwi flavour.

Auckland Airport now has a true heart. The official launch of its symbolic structure ‘Pou Manawa’ (above) creates a physical centre for people to linger in Departures, as well as an emotional centre to the airport.

In marae, the traditional meeting places for New Zealand’s Maori people, a poutokomanawa is the central pole that supports the meeting house. Manawa itself refers to the heart or seat of emotions.

The airport has honoured that concept by creating its own spiritual hub – a place that acknowledges the first people of the land, in a location that is all about the economic and social links to the world that are so vital to the nation.

But Auckland’s pou manawa is no museum piece. It embraces technology with the projection of a 36-minute sound-and-light show across its 577sq m of fabric.

And I can vouch for the quality of the soundtrack, played on traditional Maori instruments by Riki Bennett and Rewi Spraggon – both musicians are mates of mine.

Martin Moodie told me that reading of the event made him feel homesick. It’s an apt emotion, because what Auckland Airport has created feels so much like home to a Kiwi.

Departing through the airport offers more than ever an authentic New Zealand experience for passengers to carry with them as they fly off to the world.

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