Ngāti Wai team make preparations from stranded whale

By Dean Nathan

The Department of Conservation are working with local iwi to determine what will be done with a young sperm whale found stranded on Whangarei Harbour this morning.  The dead body of the whale was found on Marsden bank at the harbour entrance.

Department of Conservation Biodiversity OfficerNeil Forrester says, "Its very fresh it was alive yesterday we had reports of it swimming in the harbour.  It looks like it tried to get out maybe on the low tide and didn't quite get the channel right so beached itself which is very sad.

At over ten metres in length, the whale is said to be a teenager with a guesstimated weight of over eight tonnes.

"It will be offered to Ngāti Wai if they want to take any bones for carving and I think they've got some guys coming down now to have a look.  We've lashed a rope to it and we've now got it on a tug which is heading further down the coast to one of the whale burial sites."

Ngati Wai elder Hori Parata has told Te Kaea the Department of Conservation is aware that it is the iwi who have the authority and rights in this matter and under their protocol, the whale will not be buried.

"Ngāti Wai are organising a team of experienced personnel to complete the extraction of the whale."

The sperm whale is at the base of traditional Maori history on Whangarei Harbour with biodiversity experts expecting an increase in whales visiting the area in the near future.

Mr Forrester says, "As populations increase we're gonna see a lot more hopefully.  We had humpbacks in here last summer swimming around for a couple of days and with a little bit of luck, they'll be coming in more but hopefully not beaching like this one.  But I'm sure it will certainly become a more seen sight here in the harbour which is awesome."

Due to the ebbing tide this afternoon it was decided to hold off finally towing the whale ashore until high tide tomorrow.