Flensing tool or blubber spade; XFH.407


Fyffe House


Flensing tool or blubber spade

About this object

Flensing tool or blubber spade; made from iron which has badly corroded. The tool consists of a long handle with a narrow spade-like appendage at the end. It was found during archaeological excavations at Fyffe House in 2007.

Flensing tools such as this one were used to remove the skin and blubber of a whale. They were used like a knife, to slice strips off the whale carcass. These were then boiled to extract the highly sought after oil. The Cooper’s wing of Fyffe House is all that remains of the Waiopuka Whaling Station, established by Robert Fyfe in 1842. Robert died in 1854 and his cousin George Fyffe took over the whaling station. George Fyffe passed away, having fallen off the jetty near his house 'while in an unsound state of mind',(1) in 1867. This flensing tool has been dated to around 1870, which coincides with the time when whaling activities ceased on the property.

(1) 'The Late Mr Fyffe', Evening Post, 20 Nov 1867. View on Papers Past.

For more information about Fyffe House, which is cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, visit our website.

Medium and Materials



48.2 x 8.7cm

Credit Line

Collection of Fyffe House, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga

Object Type

Flensing tool or blubber spade

Object number


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