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11 November 2022

From hunters to watchers – whaling in Raro waters

Saturday 6 February 2021 | Written by Rod Dixon | Published in Features, Memory Lane

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From hunters to watchers – whaling in Raro waters
A Maori whaler aims a harpoon in 1936. The photograph was captioned: ‘‘A heroic (but vanishing) figure. With their almost obsolete methods, the natives achieve excellent results.’’ Photo from Corbis Images/21020519

Commercial shore-based whaling began on Rarotonga in 1865 with the help of Rarotongan whaler Jimmy Pi’i and members of a Ngāpuhi family from New Zealand. With whale numbers already in decline, it soon became clear a commercial industry was not viable. Yet a local taste for whale-meat meant opportunistic whale-hunting continued off Rarotonga and Aitutaki for almost another century.

Commercial shore-based whaling began on Rarotonga in 1865 with the help of Rarotongan whaler Jimmy Pi’i and members of a Ngāpuhi family from New Zealand. With whale numbers already in decline, it soon became clear a commercial industry was not viable. Yet a local taste for whale-meat meant opportunistic whale-hunting continued off Rarotonga and Aitutaki for almost another century.


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