29 May 2017

Fiji PM welcomes back Tabua

8:15 pm on 29 May 2017

Fiji's prime minister Frank Bainimarama has welcomed home dozens of confiscated whales teeth saying their return is timely given efforts to save the ocean.

In a ceremony in Fiji today New Zealand handed over 148 sperm whales' teeth which people from Fiji had attempted to take into New Zealand over the years.

Also present are Mark Ramsden (Back row second from right) New Zealand's high commissioner to Fiji and John E. Scanlon (Back row centre) the secretary general of CITES.

Fiji PM Frank Bainimarama (Back row second from left) at the handing over of repatriated tabuas (sperm whale teeth) from the New Zealand Government to the Fijian Government. Photo: Fiji Government

Mr Bainimarama said the teeth which are known in Fiji as Tabua carry great significance for Fijian people and full credit must be given to both countries' border agencies which worked collaboratively to make the exchange happen.

Mr Bainimarama said Fiji brought in a quota on the trade and export of Tabua and only stranded sperm whales could add to the number in circulation.

He said Fiji's respect for the ocean and marine life would always take precedence and that the exchange was timely, as Fiji prepares to co-host the UN Conference on Oceans next month in New York.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs