The remains of a huge sperm whale have washed ashore at Hokio Beach near Levin this morning.

The dead whale was spotted at first light by people taking an early morning walk and also by a couple of people on horse back.

Hapu from local iwi Muaūpoko were gathering to observe tikanga and conduct a karakia as the waves nudged the beast closer the waters edge.

The whale was being carried in by the incoming tide although the surf was very small. High tide at the beach today was just before lunch today.

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Hokio Beach near the Hokio River mouth, not far from where the whale washed ashore.
Hokio Beach near the Hokio River mouth, not far from where the whale washed ashore.

The jaw bone would be cut from the whale and kept by the iwi, while the remainder of the whale would be buried on the beach.

The call was going out for machinery suitable to dig a hole big enough. It was certainly a large specimen.

Word of the whale sighting quickly spread and there were many cars and people driving to get a closer look. It was also attracting the attention of seagulls.

There was no way of knowing just how old the whale was yet or whether it had died of natural causes, although some onlookers did say they had picked up on a pungent smell.

The whale at Hokio Beach.
The whale at Hokio Beach.

Department of Conservation were notified about the discovery and have assigned a ranger on site, accompanied by local iwi.

Herb Christophers from DOC's Customer Engagement Unit said the carcass was as yet inaccessible while the tide was coming in.

The cause of death is unknown and the species of whale has not yet been confirmed. It had been seen floating offshore since at least last Wednesday.

He said the Department was gathering more resources and will manage the disposal of the carcass when they are able to get access at low tide.

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Low tide at Hokio Beach today would be shortly before 5pm this evening.

As mana whenua of Horowhenua including Hokio Beach, Muaūpoko Iwi are pleased that our whānau, including representatives from our local hapu, gathered at the beach this morning to observe tikanga and conduct a karakia.

"Muaūpoko Iwi as mana whenua have a very special relationship with our community of Hokio and Taitoko, Levin. When we were contacted this morning, we were pleased that there is awareness of our role as kaitiaki of this area and the need to observe Muaūpoko tikanga and karakia to respect this taonga" said Di Rump, CEO, Muaūpoko Tribal Authority Inc.

Low tide at Hokio Beach will be around 5pm. Muaūpoko as mana whenua has offered assistance to DOC.

"We also ask any spectators turning up to please keep safe by working with our people and leaders - as well as with DOC and friends - in how we deal with our taonga" she added.