A very special ceremony to welcome the restored skeleton of a pilot whale to its new home at Golden Bay Museum Te Waka Huia o Mohua was held recently.

New Zealand King Salmon was among sponsors of the project, which has taken years of painstaking work to complete. The pilot whale – upokohue – skeleton restoration was carried out by Alan McLean with assistance from volunteers.

Four NZKS team members attended the morning ceremony in the museum on Tuesday, 27 November, including Lorena Arratia, Takaka Hatchery’s Broodstock Manager, Mike Leary, Mike Well and Dylan Ray.

Lorena says the ceremony was also attended by Manawhenua ki Mohua kaumatua John Ward-Holmes (Manawhenua ki Mohua is kaitiaki of whales in Golden Bay/Mohua), Barney Thomas from DOC, and members of the group for the preservation of whales.

Lorena says NZKS’s sponsorship of the whale project links to another area of support in the community, to save stranded whales. Pilot whales are the most common species to strand en masse in Golden Bay, and Lorena says NZKS’s Takaka Hatchery is a voluntary part of the region’s programme to help the cetaceans return to the sea.

She says helping stranded whales is important for the community and at the ceremony, it was said that, “whales are sacred to Maori and are considered guardian spirits who take care of people from the sea.”

The exhibit includes a display panel listing supporters of the project, including NZKS.

Alan McLean, photo credit: Stuff

Alan McLean, photo credit: Stuff