Thirty-three pilot whales have died in a mass stranding at Parengarenga harbour in the Far North.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) with Te Aupōuri and support from Ngāti Kuri and NgāiTakoto responded to the stranding on Saturday.
DOC posted on its Facebook page this evening and said rescuers responded to initial reports of a stranding involving 49 whales.
"Unfortunately, 14 had died and an attempt was made to refloat the remaining whales at high tide on Saturday, with responders staying on-site and animal welfare being monitored by video link."
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On Sunday 16 live pilot whales were successfully refloated and ushered out of the harbour to open water.
However, the remaining 33 whales died.
"They were blessed, measured, had samples taken and then interned."
Late in the day a boatie phoned Project Jonah to report the whales had returned to the harbour and said 12 were bleeding. The boatie said the whales had been chased and attacked by sharks.
Two Te Aupōuri kaitiaki returned to the beach and observed the situation, but as of this morning no whales were seen on the beach or harbour, DOC said.