Security was being put into place overnight for a dead whale found washed up on a far eastern stretch of Papamoa Beach today.
Department of Conservation spokeswoman Jessyca Bernard said the department received several calls from members of the public reporting the find yesterday afternoon.
Based on pictures sent in by the public, she said it was a sperm whale in excess of 6m long.
It had been found between the end of Papamoa Beach and the Kaituna Cut.
The department was contacting local iwi and would work with them to make a plan for the whale, she said.
"This is a taonga species for iwi."
She said the usual next steps would involve taking measurements and assessing the find.
Samples may be taken from the animal with approval from iwi.
Ngati Ranginui representative and department iwi liason Carlton Bidois said they were trying to arrange security to protect the whale overnight.
"Last time we had an orca wash up someone attempted to cut its teeth out."
He said one option for the whale iwi would want to explore was culturally harvesting it.
"Culturally you are supposed to put the whale to good use rather than disposing of it."
The process would be done respectfully, he said: to the whale, the public and to iwi.
Both the flesh and bone of the animal could be used.
If a cultural harvest was not possible they would look at burying the whale, ideally near where it came to land.