In the week leading up to Labour Weekend, a wānanga was held at Takutai o Te Tītī Marae, at Colac Bay. The purpose of the wānanga was to continue the customary mahi that was carried out earlier in the year when nine orca stranded and died at Kutu – Awa on the western shores of Te Wae Wae Bay.

To better inform ourselves about orca, Ramari Stewart (He tohunga – iwi expert on customary recovery of whales), Dr Ingrid Visser, from the Orca Research Trust, Sophie White, Carolina Loch da Silva, Moyna Muller from Otago University, Shaun Wilson and Jean Claude from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa were invited to attend the wānanga and share their understanding, knowledge, experience and expertise. This was the first time that they had attended the same event sharing their knowledge and expertise which was hugely appreciated by all who attended.

The wānanga included taking some of the pectoral fins that had been recovered into Southern Radiology in Invercargill, so they could be put under an MRI scan. Some of the fins were later dissected, which gave us a good look at the bone structure. We also assessed the decomposition process of the kōiwi and the niho were also assessed.

We now feel that we are all much better informed and look forward to the next wānanga. This was a great opportunity to have researchers, scientists and iwi experts all collaborating under our invitation and on our marae.

A huge thanks to all those people who were able to attend the wānanga and a big mihi to Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka whānau who helped out with catering throughout the wānanga. Without your time and mahi the wānanga would not have been the huge success it was. Nā Joe Wakefield.