This Man Has Helped Give 460 Dead Whales a Second Life—As Art
Hori Parata handles dead whales on New Zealand beaches the Maori way: He extracts the bones so they can be carved into jewelry or art.
When Hori Parata talks to a dead whale on a New Zealand beach, he welcomes it home. “It is returning to where it was born,” he says.
The earliest whales walked on land—evolutionary biologists learned this from fossils that show a four-legged land animal gradually evolving into a marine mammal around 50 million years ago. Parata, 75, learned it from his elders among the Ngātiwai, a Maori tribe of northern New Zealand. The forest god Tane, they said, noticed that the whale, then a land animal, liked rivers and marshes—wet places. So Tane gave whales as a gift to Tangaroa, the ocean god.
Parata is a Ngātiwai environmental resource manager, and for him a dead whale on a beach