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From Openwaterpedia

noun - Taniwha are supernatural creatures in Māori tradition, that take the shape of giant lizards, reptile-like sea creatures, sharks, whales, octopuses, or monsters that lived in deep waters (both fresh water and salt water, sometimes with wings or with changing shapes. They exist in the ocean, rivers, lakes, caves, or the Cook Strait. Some taniwha would eat and kill people, or kidnap women. Others were believed to be guardians for a tribe, and people would offer them gifts and say a karakia (a spell).

In The Cook Strait[edit]

Kupe was the great navigator who is reputed to have discovered New Zealand while travelling in the Matawhaorua canoe. He placed one of his guardian taniwha, Tuhirangi, in the Cook Strait. Tuhirangi guided and protected canoes, and reappeared in the form of a dolphin named Pelorus Jack, which accompanied ships in this stretch of water.

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