Monday, October 3rd, 2016 (Shawn McAvinue). Young and old rallied together to save a pod of whales beached in the Octagon.
Actors dressed in wetsuits with fins attached, emerged for the Arts Festival Dunedin street theatre performance Whales on Saturday.
The playful pod of 12 whales stopped to breach in unison, before becoming beached on the lower Octagon, distressed and moaning.
A group of response team members — four Binge Culture artists from Wellington — cordoned off the pod and asked for volunteers from more than 100 people watching.
The volunteers had to keep the confused pod “cool, wet and comfortable” until high tide.
Without hesitation, Sonny Arekatera Tera (4) rolled up the sleeves of his bush jacket and kept a whale body wet with a damp cloth, as his sister Phaedra (2), sprayed a mist across its fins.
The rescuers sang a waiata to comfort the pod until the tide approached but it was too late to save one whale, the actor leaving a limp wetsuit among the pod to represent the death.
As the imaginary tide started to surround the pod, the aria Nessun dorma played across loudspeakers.
The volume of the aria increased as the pod “swam” to the Octagon central carriageway and people threw buckets of water in the air, to represent the pod breaking through the crashing waves.
The rescuers retreated to the beach for a hot drink and watched the pod swim away, breaching in unison.