Chopper airlifts jawbone from beached blue whale

17:00, Aug 19 2014

The rotting mass of blubber and bones near Okurukuru has been picked clean of its prize.

On Monday, the Department of Conservation airlifted two 300-kilogram sections of the 20-metre-long whale's jaw bone and delivered them to Oakura Pa.

The blue whale washed up on the shore early last month.

DOC partnership manager Darryn Ratana said the carcass had "pretty much disintegrated" and "members of the public were pretty much taking bones that had washed up on to shore".

Ratana said members from Ngati Tairi, a hapu of Taranaki Iwi, had expressed an interest in the bones and asked for help to get them to the pa.

He said a helicopter was the safest way to remove them because of their location, between Tapuae and Back Beach, and their weight.

"We did an assessment of what it would take to have manpower lift it out and it was just going to be too difficult and dangerous.

Ratana said they used a helicopter involved with another department operation to keep costs down, but it was not yet known what the bill would be.

Representatives of Oakura Pa for could not be reached for comment.

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