Kapiti Independent report by Alan Tristram
The protocols on Māori extraction of bones and teeth from whales are said to need reviewing after angry scenes at this week’s whale stranding at Paraparaumu Beach on the Kāpiti Coast.
This is the view of Councillor K Gurunathan (Guru) who is a KCDC ward councillor for the area where the whale stranding occurred.
Cr Gurunathan says: “Reports of children crying, and police and DOC officials forced to hold back an angry crowd, as the dead whale was butchered by local iwi undertaking the customary extraction of the jawbone, cannot be good for race relations in this district.”
He says: “The incident exposes a lack of understanding by some sections of the public about the deeply rooted spiritual and cultural relationship between coastal iwi and whales. It also exposes a lack of appreciation and preparedness by local iwi in managing mainstream public sensitivity.”
Cr Gurunathan also says it’s alarming that, according to media reports, that while the authorities had cited public health considerations for cordoning off the whale, officials were walking around barefooted or in jandals — and those cutting up the whale were knee deep in bloody water and tissue.
The protocols between local iwi, KCDC and DOC were established following the March 1996 whale stranding at Paekakariki.
Cr Gurunathan adds: “This was spearheaded by two remarkable Maori women, the international whale recovery expert Ramari Stewart and the late Tungia Baker. I am sure they would want local iwi to use the experience from the latest stranding to review and update the protocols.”