Dolphin Kete – Our Stories

We have a rich cultural heritage here in Aotearoa that spans over a thousand years. Dolphins, whales and even sharks are traditionally seen as Kaitiaki – guardians, protectors of our souls.  They can be called on in times of trouble for help, guidance and companionship in the marine environment. Remember Tuterakihuanoa, Opo, Pelorus Jack, Maui and at present there’s a friendly dolphin Mia around Gisbourne.  The land of the long white cloud has it’s very own tradition of friendly dolphins, who can stick to the same area for years around Aotearoa. 

Maui and Hector dolphins are steeped with legends and old stories.  Ancient stories from the Akaroa area tell of them saving young children.  Here is an old Waitaha whakatauki or proverb:

He tu te Pahu, He tu te Tai – If dolphin is well, so too are our coasts.

Much of the oldskool knowledge is fragmented and sparse but it is everywhere in little bits.  So here is a chance to contribute what you can, so the kete can be full again for our grandchildren.

 Just as importantly, this is a place to share stories and memories of our experiences with dolphins in our lifetimes.  By collecting our stories in this national archive, we can help to revive our relationship with these animals and make it even stronger. 

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Surfing Great Barrier Island 2008

New years days 2008. What a way to start the year by washing off the hangover with a surf at the beatiful Medland’s beach (Great Barrier Island, New Zealand).

There were less than 10 of us in the water at the time only 20metres or so from the shore, and maybe 300 people scattered along the white sand, watching the waves while basking in the hot sun. Having journeyed all the way up from Dunedin these waters were truly tropical. Suddenly a fin whisked through the water in front of me and I froze. It was big. The huge Bottlenose Dolphin leapt from the water and splashed gracefully down again. These were far bigger than the small hector’s dolphins I was used to surfing with.

Now heaps of dolphins were darting and soaring all around us. The bathers on the beach rose up excitedly, pointing, some running into the water. My friends and I watched intently as these amazing creatures swam with us excitedly. Sharing waves with the dolphins was incredible. These masters of the water so much more nimble and skilled than ourselves.

To surf with these magical creatures on the first day of year is truly symbolic. Hopefully we can help to stimulate a deeper appreciation and understanding for the guardians of our waters. 2008 will be a great year!

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2 Responses to Dolphin Kete – Our Stories

  1. Francisca says:

    Thank you so much Gemma and Liz and everyone involved in this conservation project.

    I am an intern at Greenpeace NZ and you have all my support. Right now I am writing a piece about Music 4 Mauis that will go in our blog soon.

    If dolphin is well, so too are our coasts -this connection is beautiful, and I totally believe that the situation of the dolphins is symbolizing the state of our oceans… so we need to keep working hard on this issue.

    Big congrats and keep up the good work!


  2. 100mauis says:

    by Irene

    One sunny day I went up the hill to find a fantail nest, suddenly I heard a shushing noise:

    I looked out to sea and saw splashing water. Soon I saw it was a porpoise rolling over like

    hundreds of cartwheels one after another.

    This poem was found in Te Ao Hou No. 23 (July 195 from: SHOOT THE CENTIPEDE -A SCHOOL MAGAZINE FROM ORUAITI. A collection of stories and poems from Oruaiti Maori School. Oruaiti lies by the sea a few miles from Kaitaia.

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