Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC was notified of an orca stranding at Whangaparaoa, Cape Runaway in the Eastern Bay of Plenty yesterday and immediately identified what support was needed.

Date:  25 May 2017

DOC was notified of an orca stranding at Whangaparaoa, Cape Runaway in the Eastern Bay of Plenty around 2 pm yesterday and were told four of the six orca were already dead.

“We immediately contacted local resident, Joe Rua who we have worked with on previous strandings, who has extensive experience in this area, to establish what support was needed,” says Operations Manager Jade King-Hazel.

“At no stage did we ever say the area was too remote for DOC to attend. Our plan was always to get a response team into the area to work with locals on refloating the remaining orca and working with hapū on burial of the dead animals.

DOC remained in contact with Mr Rua, and planned to fly a small response team by helicopter into the area, but weather conditions prevented this. Around 4 pm DOC was notified of the successful refloating of the smaller of the two orca still alive by local tangata whenua. The plan was to refloat the larger orca on the high tide around 6am this morning.

“A DOC seven-person response team from Whakatane and Opotiki was briefed this morning at 5 am. They were on the road to Whangaparaoa shortly after, however the remaining orca had died overnight.

“Safety of staff and volunteers working on these operations is paramount and our standard operating procedure is to leave the animals during the hours of darkness, and return to try and refloat in daylight hours and on the high tide,” says Ms King-Hazel.

Ms King-Hazel was very appreciative of tangata whenua and local response.

“We are always overwhelmed at the fantastic support we get from the communities around the Coast, when it comes to these types of incidents. Joe with the support of others did a great job at rescuing the smaller animal late yesterday afternoon. We appreciate the ongoing support of logistics and tikanga shared with the Department’s team.

“We look forward to continuing to grow this relationship over the coming months and learn what further support we can give these communities to be empowered to help protect these majestic taonga.”

The Department is working with the local hapū and Te Rūnanga o Te Whānau ā Apanui in relation to plans for the burial of the dead orca. DOC is also liaising with the New Zealand Orca Research Trust to establish what information and samples they may require.


Mike Jones, Senior Community Ranger
Phone: +64 27 437 0377

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