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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 5 (August 1, 1934)

The Whalers

The Whalers.

Centenary celebrations are rather numerous just now; the most important of all will be upon us in 1940. But there is one feature of New Zealand life that touched its first century a good many years ago, and that is the shore whaling enterprise. There is a wonderful story of adventure and seastress and toil bound up in the whale-chasing and oil-getting industry in these islands, which dates back to the early part of the last century. Over at Tory Channel, the bay station at Te Awaiti has been steadily sending out its whale-hunting boats every season since about 1820. The methods have changed; but the descendants of the old-time hearties arc there still, and they risk all weathers in Cook Strait just as their sailor forefathers did, though they have improved upon the primitive means and back-breaking toil of the era of hand-hurled harpoons and the weary oar. A recent report from Te Awaiti gave a tally of thirteen whales as the catch for May and June.

Up in the Far North the old station of Whangamumu still operates. But times are not what they were, the wholesale massacre of whales in the Antarctic by the Norwegians and other fleets of gun-armed killers has its inevitable effect on the numbers of the big “fish” about the New Zealand coast.