Māui Dolphin Day goes virtual for lockdown

Māui Dolphin Day might be in lockdown but head online to the Whāingaroa Environment Centre Facebook page and website on Sunday, April 26 for a virtual Māui Dolphin Day experience celebrating the endangered little popoto.

The popular event, which includes the iconic recycled raft race, is a highlight on the Raglan calendar and was scheduled for the Saturday after lockdown.

Whāingaroa Environment Centre coordinator Jasmine Hunter and marine ranger Eleanor Clarke decided the event was too important to cancel and set about curating a virtual Māui Dolphin Day for the community.

“The community really looks forward to it and people have already put so much work into the event. This will be the 17th Māui Dolphin Day and the first time it has ever been cancelled,” Jasmine says.

The virtual event will include fun activities, guest speakers, an art competition and a recording of children singing along to the theme song Save Maui Dolphin’s Today.

Children are being asked to send in photos or videos of their Māui dolphin-inspired recycled art for the competition.

“We know a lot of kids are cooped up at home at the moment and we thought this virtual event would be a great opportunity to create entertaining and educational content for them.  We want them to have fun while teaching them about Māui dolphin conservation,” Eleanor says.

As well as organising guest speakers and other online activities, the resourceful pair are also asking the community to contribute to the virtual event by sending in photos or videos of their recycled rafts.

“I know some people make their rafts at the last minute but I know there will be completed rafts out there and it would be great to share these online,” Jasmine says.

This year a Māui dolphin sculpture created from recycled wood scraps and chicken wire by Joanna Fairclough was going to be revealed at the education tent. The sculpture dubbed Salty McFlip will now feature in the virtual event with its creator Joanna sharing how it was made.

Send photos and videos of recycled rafts and for the art competition to marine@whaingaroa.org.nz by Saturday, April 18.  Head to Whāingaroa Environment Centre website and Facebook page on Sunday, April 26 for a virtual Māui Dolphin Day.

Janine Jackson

Māui dolphins need your help!

The Māui dolphin is on the edge of extinction.

A recent estimate of the population indicated that approximately 63 individuals over one year of age remain. They are the smallest of the world’s 32 dolphin species.

Māui dolphin are generally found on west coast of the North Island close to shore in small groups and in recent years they have been spotted in the waters off Whaingaroa.