Blubber, jawbone to be taken

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 24/05/2014

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Arowhenua runanga will today recover the jawbone and take blubber samples of the whale that washed up on Pareora beach 11 days ago.

The jaw bone once extracted will be buried and the samples given to Otago Museum for study.

Whales have been an integral part of oral Maori tradition and are considered taonga (treasure).

The dead whale is a biohazard. The cutting will be treated as tapu (sacred).

Upoko o Arowhenua Te Wera King said it was a good example of how the concept of tapu and noa (no longer sacred) worked in Maori culture.

"Other people will be giving them [the people cutting] drinks and feed them by hand," King said.

Starting at about 8.30am today runanga will begin with a karakia (prayer). The procedure could take all day.

"If it is unsafe because of the weather or high surf we will abandon it until it is safe to go back."

He said certain areas surrounding the carcase will be off limits to the public but they will be able to see what is happening.

"It will be messy with blood on the sand."

He warned spectators not to get oil, blubber or blood on their clothes as it was impossible to get rid of the odour.

In the past Maori considered a whale a huge gift and ate its meat and rendered its oil for use in rongoa (medicine/health).

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- The Timaru Herald

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