An investigation is underway after a whale was discovered dead on a West Coast beach with its nose chain-sawed off.
The grisly find has left both locals and conservation staff angry and baffled as to why it has happened.
Officials believe someone used a chainsaw to hack off part of the head of the gray's beaked whale on a Greymouth beach, possibly wanting its teeth.
"It's disappointing to see that the whale has been tampered with. Yeah, we're disappointed and disgusted," said Glen Newton, Department of Conservation ranger.
It's likely the five-metre-long fully grown male was already dead when the attack happened.
Gray's beaked whales are usually found in deep waters and are the most common species of whale to beach in New Zealand.
But tampering with them or taking body parts is illegal and DOC is now investigating the incident.
It has the power to prosecute and is appealing for public help.
"It's hard to know what motivates people, but I guess this whale had an interesting tooth in it's lower jaw which probably was what they were looking at. Whether that's for ornamental reasons was it or just personal interest we're not sure," Mr Newton said.
Those responsible could face up to two years in jail or a fine of up to $250,000.
Locals want them caught, describing the attack as "cruel" and "disgusting".
The public are being warned not to touch the whale as it may carry serious disease.
The remains will now be used by local iwi for cultural purposes before it's buried on the beach.