Toa the stranded orca calf near Plimmerton died last night, and this morning he was buried at Ngāti Toa’s local marae at sunrise.
The Department of Conservation’s Ian Angus said a karakia was held after Toa died and then his body was placed in a trailer and driven about one kilometre to the local marae.
"There was a crowd of about 60 at the on-site karakia, and then about 20 people went to the burial," Angus told 1 NEWS.
Toa’s health started to deteriorate at 7.30pm last night, and Ian Angus confirmed there was a discussion at the time about what was best for the animal, which included euthanasia.
"There was less movement, a decrease in activity, swimming less and breathing less," Angus said.
But, by 8.30pm, the orca calf died of natural causes.
Angus said Ngāti Toa have requested privacy for the burial site and that people show respect.
"Work with wildlife is always going to be a job of highs and lows," he said.
"Toa’s life might have ended, but Toa’s story will continue."