Facebook hoax fools kiwis into thinking Matariki the Wellington whale is back

NZ 19/07/2018

Widespread reports that Matariki the whale has been spotted back in Wellington Harbour on Wednesday afternoon are unfounded.

Facebook group Wellington Live shared footage on social media and its website, claiming the southern right whale dubbed 'Matariki' was seen near the city's ports. 

However Centreport staff told Newshub there have been no reported sightings in the area, and the footage Wellington Live has shared belongs to one of its staff members - who filmed it two weeks ago.

Wellington Live also claimed the whale is exhibiting behaviour that "looks like 'she' could be about to give birth".

But NIWA says it's too early to speculate about this or even the whale's sex, and tests are still underway to determine it.

Wellington Live has since updated its post and removed the article from its website.

There have been no reported sightings of the whale since late last week, where it was seen between Moa Point and Tarakena Bay on the south coast.

On Saturday evening, a fireworks display for Matariki took place in the city harbour, after it was cancelled the week before due to concerns about the whale's safety.