New Zealand Maori Tribes Worried Over Whale Strandings – Are Manmade Changes Behind The Spike?

Source: The Guardian/Eleanor Ainge Roy 

Photo: Jorge Royan/Wikimedia Commons

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Whale whisperer Hori Parata was just seven years old when he attended his first mass stranding, a beaching of porpoises in New Zealand’s Northland, their cries screeching through the air on the deserted stretch of sand.

Seven decades later, Parata, 75, has now overseen more than 500 strandings and is renowned in New Zealand as the leading Māori whale expert, called on by tribes around the country for cultural guidance as marine strandings become increasingly complex and fatal.

“Man’s greed in the ocean is hurting the whales,” says Parata, a fierce and uncompromising elder of the Ngātiwai tribe of eastern Northland.

“We’re having to put up with a lot of stuff today. The public want to hug the whales, they want to touch them, they want to feel good – that’s not the thing. We feel that is ridiculous.”

Whale experts regard New Zealand – or Aotearoa as it is called by Māori – as the whale stranding capital of the world, with more than 5,000 incidents recorded since 1840, and an average of 300 individual animals beaching themselves each year.

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Photo: Jorge Royan/Wikimedia Commons

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