The name for a water monster or goblin. The word was sometimes used for monsters of any kind; for mighty chiefs or persons having supernatural power of any kind: Ki te Tāniwha nui o te moana. To turn oneself into a sea god or supernatural being: I tāniwhatia tenei tangata, haere ana i raro i te whenua.
A kono-tāniwha ("goblin basket") is a very small food basket used when a party was engaged in catching and slaying a tāniwha: Te ingoa o awa, he kono-tāniwha. The trap or cage for catching water monsters is called whare-tāniwha. It was a house entirely woven (rangaranga), without any part being made of wood. It was baited with flesh, and was set in mid-stream.
Kawhia has the reputation of being the home of quite a tribe of tāniwha, no less than fifteen in number. They are called Ngai-te-heke-o-te-Rangi.
- Tregear, Edward. (1891). Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Government Printer, p. 162, 462, 614,
- White, John. (1887). Ancient History of the Maori. 6 vols. Wellington: G. Didsbury, Government Printer, p. 5:79.
This article incorporates text from Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary (1891) by Edward Tregear, which is in the public domain.