Nicole, at 10 years old, is our newest research assistant. While New Zealand born, she grew up in Rarotonga and travels between the north island and Rarotonga often. She loves all animals and horses are her favourite. Her interest in whales has developed from a young age, particularly when Nicole attended a whale stranding with Nan in 2006 at Te Uki Ou school.

Nicole has been very helpful working with DNA samples from last season. She attended the Frontiers Abroad programme that Nan was involved in and assisted greatly as 15 American students learnt about the beautiful island. Learning to drive the boats and work with biopsy darts, she is destined to become an integral part of the research team.

Her love of the whales that travel through the Cook Islands is highlighted in her beautiful poetry below.

You can see me in the water, splashing around.
Playing with my friends.
I jump up in the air with excitement
and everyone starts clapping their hands.
I sing a happy song.
And everyone was happy once again.

I live deep down in the blue sea.
I jump around in excitment when people are watching me.
Sometimes I even show off my new calf.
When people swim with me, I swim slow
so they can get a better picture of me.

I live in the deep blue sea. I have a tail.
And people have a hard time finding me.
I am not a mermaid. I am not a shark.
But people find me amazing.
I am bigger than a bus and bigger than you three.
I sing every year and I sometimes sound like a monkey.

Nicole Mangakahia


© Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation, 2004-13. All photos © Nan Hauser.
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