Residents on the Paraparaumu coast were shocked yesterday morning by the sight of a beached sperm whale.
Iwi representatives met with the Department of Conservation (DoC) to decide what to do with the whale's remains. Prayers were heard early yesterday morning to lift the sacredness and guide the whale's spirit into the beyond. Marine experts say the whale was an adult male, roughly 20m long, and weighed about 40,000kg.
Hawea Tomoana said "the interesting thing about where it got washed up here in Paraparaumu, as you might know, there is overlapping mana whenua interest."
The site of the beaching rests on the boundary line of Te Ātiawa and Ngāti Toarangatira, but the tribes say this isn't the time to argue about land matters. This isn't the first beaching in Paraparaumu. In December 2011, another sperm whale died on this beach. DoC's main priority is to safely remove the whale.
DoC's Brent Tandy said "the first step will be to get it out of the hole that it's buried itself into. It's sort of half-submerged itself into the sand, so that will be the first thing."
Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toarangatira and Te Ātiawa have all resided here at one point or another. The jaw bone was expected to be removed yesterday afternoon.
Local elder Te Raakauoteora Te Maipi said "the iwi would like to perform an ancestral burial ceremony."
It's now up to DoC and the iwi to resolve this delicate situation. More prayers were expected to be held last night in a ceremony where the whale's jaw bone was be gifted to the iwi.
Reporter: Wepiha Te Kanawa