An 18-metre Sperm whale washed-up opposite the Mahia Beach Holiday Park this morning.
Campground employee Karen Waihaki was walking to work with her daughter when she found the whale.
"Me and my daughter were on our way to work around 6:20am when we found it. It was still alive and the beach was quite clear you could see it in the whitewash. It was huge."
She ran to the campsite to round up volunteers and call DOC.
"Around 50 people and their kids got together to try help.
"Around 7:30am a lady came down in her wetsuit who was told by DOC the whale was quite sick and people should clear the water for their safety."
Shortly after the whale died. Local man Bill Short says it was a sad sight.
"Hundreds of campers and visitors came to view the whale in its sandy grave."
Rongomaiwahine Kaumatua Pura Edwards says iwi have been in discussions with DoC.
"We're trying to organise security today. We're hoping to get diggers out this afternoon to put ropes around it and bring it up to the beach."
Gisborne's DoC biodiversity ranger James Quirk says the process to bury the whale is already underway.
"If people are going to come down we want to remind people to be mindful and respectful while the process is taking place."
The iwi will keep whale's the jaw bone.
Quirk says he expects it will be buried in the dunes this weekend.
Photo credit: Bill Short