In New Zealand bone carvings of whales and dolphins reflect the strong spiritual bond between the Maori people and aquatic mammals.
Legends tell that whales guided and protected their ancestor’s sea-journey to Aotearoa. Other stories convey that individuals rode whales back to the mainland when trapped on an island or going overboard on a fishing trip. The Whale Rider movie was enthused by these legends.
In traditional carved bone jewelry either parts of a fluke, a whale, or dolphin sometimes with their calves are figurative expressions. Their symbolic meaning is protection on any travel of long distances. While the harmonious and playful characteristics of dolphins are associated with harmony and love in friendship and family.
In the occasion a whale beaches it is regarded as a gift of the gods. The preservation process of the bones takes several years. In the past particularly prized whale bone jewellery became family heirlooms that were handed down for many generations.
These aquatic mammals are some of the most fascinating ocean creatures. New Zealand is fortunate to be close to waters where year round pods of whales and dolphins have their feeding grounds.
On the east coast of the North Island dolphin discovery tours start from Auckland or from Paihia in the Bay of Islands where on request pick ups from Russell are available. The tour leads into the Hauraki Gulf where a richmarine wildlife occurs with about twenty-two identified species of mammals.
On the South Island, Kaikoura is the whale watching metropolis where giant sperm whales, the sea acrobats the dusky dolphins, seals, and albatrosses can be observed year round.
Akaroa on Banks Peninsula near Christchurch is home to the hektor dolphins that are also called New Zealand dolphin. Tours leave regularly to watch and swim with the smallest dolphins.