Taniwha

Freshwater Monster of Australasia.

Etymology: Maori (Austronesian) word.

Variant names: Taneewha, Tanewa, Taniwa.

Physical description: Alligator-like. Covered with scales or black down.

Behavior: Upsets canoes. Can also move through the earth or air.

Habitat: Lakes, rivers, caves.

Distribution: Waikato and Whanganui Rivers, North Island, New Zealand.

Possible explanation: A living population of Delcourt's giant gecko (Haplodactylus delcourti), the world's largest gecko. See KAWEKAWEAU.

Sources: William Richard Wade, A Journey in the Northern Island of New Zealand (Hobart Town, Australia: G. Rolwegan, 1842), p. 34; Edward Shortland, Traditions and Superstitions ofthe New Zealanders (London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1856), p. 75; George French Angas, Polynesia (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1866); John Rawson Elder, ed., Marsden's Lieutenants (Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Council, 1934), p. 255; George L. Meredith, Adventuring in Maoriland (Sydney, Australia: Angus and Robertson, 1935), p. 42; T. W. Downes, "Maori Mentality Regarding the Lizard and Taniwha in the Whanganui River Area," Journal ofthe Polynesian Society 46 (1937): 206-224; Richard Sharell, The Tuatara, Lizards and Frogs of New Zealand (London: Collins, 1966), p. 59; New Zealand Herald (Auckland), October 4, 1986; H. W. Orsman, ed., The Dictionary of New Zealand English (Auckland, New Zealand: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 812.

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