This Month in NZ History
The End of the Golden Summer
9 March 1956
was a bottlenose dolphin who became famous throughout New Zealand during the summer of 1956/57 for playing with the children of the small town of Opononi on the Hokianga Harbour. Opo’s playful antics included juggling beach balls and beer bottles on her snout.
Opo attracted thousands of holidaymakers to Opononi, and she seemed to enjoy the attention. But on 9 March 1956, Opo was found dead, jammed in a crevice between rocks. The people of Opononi were devastated by her death and buried her above the beach where she had entertained so many. Messages of sympathy poured in from around the country, including from the governor-general.
Opo’s life was remembered in song, books and film.
This film clip was screened in 1956, the year of her death. It includes the song ‘Opo the friendly dolphin’, written by Crombie Murdoch.