© WWF New Zealand

What are Stories of the Sea?

Based on real-life ocean tales submitted by members of the public, these animated stories highlight how our ocean has changed over only one person’s lifetime.

Stories of the Sea is our original animated series, animated by Paige Koedijk, and narrated by Nathaniel Lees.

During our nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown, we saw an opportunity to reconnect young people with their grandparents or older relatives, who may have been missing their visits.

While in isolation, we asked young people to phone an older friend or family member to see if they had a story of the sea from when they were young. After all the stories were submitted on our website, we chose three to be animated!

Lockdown was difficult for many people, but especially our senior communities. Human connection is so important. We wanted to give you another opportunity to engage with the older people in your life in a meaningful way, while also having a bit of fun.

The Cave

Story-teller: Tautini Moana Glover (Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti)

Submitted by: Nicki Glover, his daughter

Location: Titirangi Bay, Marlborough Sounds

The Cave is a beautiful representation of how abundant our moana once was. A healthy ocean full of life was a reality as little as one generation ago. Unfortunately today, due to unsustainable human activity at sea and on land, our moana has paid a high price. The Cave shows us the effects that heavy pressure on our precious coastal resources can have, when not managed sustainably.

Setting aside some of our coastal and marine areas so that species and habitats can be restored and thrive once again, is one way to protect our moana and the taonga species that live there. We also need to make sure we follow regulations that are in place so that we don't take too many or undersized individuals, such as Pāua.

Ngā mihi and thank you to the Glover whānau for allowing us to bring to life this precious story of the sea!

The Treasure

Story-teller: Kim Hennessy

Submitted by: Brydie Shea, her niece

Location: Kaikōura, Canterbury

The Treasure highlights the importance of taking care of our beloved species by following rules for sustainable fishing – such as releasing undersize Kōura (Crayfish/Red Rock Lobster) and females with egg clutches.

Rock Lobsters are important for us as a food source, but they also play a really important role in our marine ecosystems, where they are often the dominant benthic predator. In many locations, this role has been diminished due to overfishing. Lobster also provide a food source to some species of fish including octopus and stingrays.

As well as practicing sustainable fishing, it’s also really important for us to have areas set aside where no fishing is allowed – to allow ecosystems to return to their original, plentiful state.

(Disclaimer: the minimum size for Red Rock Lobster is now measured across the tail width and is 54mm for males and 60mm for females. Previously, the minimum size for Red Rock Lobster was measured in tail length and was 6 inches.)

Thank you to both Brydie and Kim for allowing us to bring this beautiful story to life!

The Shark

Story-teller: Si'u Faito'toa Simanu Ieremia

Submitted by: Isabella Ieremia, his granddaughter

Location: Pukerua Bay, Wellington

This story shares a peaceful interaction between Pa and a shark that he encountered. Most sharks are harmless to humans, and whilst it’s always important to be careful around sharks, humans are far more of a threat to them than they are to us! Shark populations are declining rapidly due to unsustainable fishing activity, including shark-finning. Healthy shark populations are an essential part of a functioning ecosystem, so it’s really important that we do all we can to help protect these magnificent creatures!

Pukerua Bay, in Wellington, is an ideal habitat for many types of marine life. Wahirepo (Eagle Rays) can often be seen cruising in the shallows, and Kororā (Little Blue Penguins) are known to nest along the rocky shores. This area has always been a popular fishing spot, but as fishing activity increased, the local iwi and community became concerned about the quantity and diversity of fish stocks. In an attempt to return the area to the flourishing ecosystem that it once was, fishing regulations have been put in place. The area is now an example of a Type 2 Marine Protected Area. Signs of recovery have been recorded and the local iwi, together with the community continue to support the Pukerua Bay Closure.

Malo lava to Isabella and her aiga – we loved bringing this exciting ocean tale to life!

An Ocean Context

Stories of the Sea shows us that a healthy moana, full of life, was a reality as little as one generation ago. There are people around today who still remember it as thriving and abundant! Unfortunately today, unsustainable human activity at sea and on land have meant a serious decline in ocean health over the past few decades.

We must listen to our elders and learn from the past to ensure future generations can tell wonderful ocean stories to their own mokopuna.

© Tim Marshall