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Auction in support of Whale Song project

A whale's tail carved out of Oamaru stone is being auctioned in support of the Whale Song project.

Artist and councillor Angela Buswell carved the whale tail during a recent symposium in Waikanae Beach.

"Angela has donated it as a fundraiser in support of Whale Song," said Marco Zeeman who is spearheading the Whale Song project.

"So we've put it up for auction which ends on Monday, August 24."

"It's garden quality and has been sealed."

People can write their name, contact number and bid amount, on a piece of paper, before putting it into a box in the Whale Song information centre in Coastlands.

Whale Song project aims to build a life-size sculpture park in a prime Paraparaumu location featuring seven humpback whales.

The bronze sculptured whales, sitting on top of wind turbine type poles, would range in size from 8.5m to 24m.

Meanwhile, a carved whale's tooth has been given to the project and is on view in the information centre.

The tooth is simply a display item from an era when whaling was prolific.

It was donated by Joan Millington, from Paraparaumu, who was Zeeman's lawyer's secretary for many years.

A carved whale tooth. Photo / David Haxton

A supporting document about the whale tooth's origins states it was by a person known as 'George the German' in a small fishing village in Paita, in the north of Peru, in 1965/66.

"There were not many Europeans in that part of Peru in the 60s and that is how my then husband, who was the office manager of the company, got to know the whaling factory owner George," Joan wrote.

"Visits to the whaling factory were by invitation only and very few of the English people got to see it."

Joan and her husband were offered some of the best cuts of whale meat and expected to cook it and then report back on what they thought of it.

"I cooked it like steak, which it resembled with lots of onions.

"It did taste a bit like steak if a little fishy.

"A whale is of course a mammal and the flesh resembles steak in texture."

The document also revealed the grim reality of the whale trade.

"We saw the whole grisly process from the pulling up of the dead whale, to the first important piercing of the skin, which was dramatic and extremely horrible, and we had to put up with the smell which was totally overpowering.

"It was rapidly and very competently cut up with long knives on very long handles, and put down into various hatches in the slipway according to the use of the various components.

"The water around the slipway was red coloured for about a quarter of a mile out to sea, because of the run-off from the slipway.

"Local fishing men avoided the area totally although it was just around the corner from their village."

Whaling was a big industry in Kāpiti waters reaching its peak in the mid-1830s.

Those days are long gone with the emphasis now on conservation, celebrating the majestic creatures and acknowledging the past hence the Whale Song project.


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