A video shared to Facebook from a Mahanga Bay occupier who helped skin and eat a seal says they "respected the seal's life".
Earlier this week the Department of Consevation (DoC) launched an investigation after a seal was skinned and eaten by those occupying Mahanga Bay in Wellington late last month.
A DoC spokeswoman today confirmed no one has been changed yet in relation to the incident, although it is an offence to take parts of deceased marine animals under the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992.
The occupation on Miramar Peninsula formed after the anti-mandate protest at Parliament was broken up in March, and tents, campervans and cars could be seen near the beach this week.
A person at the occupation posted a video to Facebook this morning explaining the group had tried to save the seal's life, and respected the animal while engaging in the custom of eating it. The video has since been deleted.
"The media are trying to make out that we are savages, but that's not the case at all," he said in the video.
"We really respected the seal's life and it is a custom of ours because we are mana whenua and this happened on our water."
He said the group had heard the seal crying out in the water and gone to pull it from the net, after which they called the SPCA and DoC.
The group massaged the seal to try and get water out of it, and even gave it CPR while they were waiting, he said.
After DoC arrived and told them it wouldn't survive, he said they had skinned it and cooked the meat.
Not many of the group had eaten the animal, he said, but those who had pulled the net ashore and a few others did.
"We gave karakia to it and put a rahui out on the bay, so there was no swimming in the bay or fishing in the bay for a week," he said.
Taranaki Whānui Tumu Whakarae Lee Hunter would not speak directly about this matter, but said Taranaki Whānui and uri (tribal members) had conveyed their concerns to Police and council, about the occupation "impacting residents and the local marine environment".
"We understand that civic leaders and enforcement authorities are working with the landowner to address the concerns we've raised," he said.
DoC told the Herald they had gone to the scene at 11am on March 21 and met with the people who reported the seal.
At this point the seal was alive but unresponsive.
"The group were comforting the seal and were asked to inform DoC once it had died so that it could be buried," said DoC Kapiti-Wellington operations manager Angus Hulme-Muir.
"This was not done, and DoC was later informed that the seal was skinned and partially eaten."
Under the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992, it is an offence to harass, disturb, injure, or kill marine mammals, or to take parts of deceased marine mammals, such as teeth or meat.
Anyone charged with violating the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992 faces a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment or a fine of up to $250,000, Hulme-Muir said.
"The DoC compliance team is investigating to establish if any offences have been committed and to what is the appropriate course of action to take."
A DoC spokeswoman confirmed today no one had yet been charged in relation to the incident.
"At this point there aren't any concerns that this behaviour will continue, and we would certainly hope to discourage any future offending via potential prosecution or fines," she said.
"We will provide an update once the investigation is completed, and any possible charges are laid. We can't provide any further comment on the investigation while it is underway."
The Herald also contacted Wellington City Council and Police, both of which referred questions to DoC.
Wellington City Council said earlier this week they were in discussions with Police, NIWA and other parties regarding the occupation.
"We're considering our options with a view to encouraging the occupiers to leave the site," a spokesperson said.
"The Council has concerns about health and hygiene at the site."
Oranga Tamariki Associated DCE services to Family and Children Dee McManus-Emery said they were also aware of the occupation, and working with their partner agencies to address any concerns.
"We encourage anyone that has concerns about a child or a young person's wellbeing to please get in touch with us directly."
The Ministry of Education has also been contacted for comment, following reports a school was operating at the site.