Key Points:

It could have been a scene from a movie when Mahia's Moko the dolphin came out of nowhere to save two pygmy sperm whales from what looked like certain death.

The playful dolphin, who has set up home around Mahia on the East Coast, was the perfect helper on Monday as Department of Conservation worker Malcolm Smith toiled to refloat the mother whale and her 1-year-old male calf.

"It was amazing. It was like she grabbed them by the flipper and led them to safety," Mr Smith said.