The Taniwha is a creature of Māori mythology. They are beings that live in deep pools in rivers, dark caves, or in the sea, especially in places with dangerous currents or deceptive breakers. They may be considered highly respected kaitiaki (protective guardians) of people and places, or in some traditions as dangerous, predatory beings, which for example would kidnap women to have as wives.
What a Taniwha looks like depends on where you see it. Out in open waters, it will appear as a whale or giant shark. When in inland waters, like rivers or streams, it may look more like a gecko or tuatara. No matter where you see it, it will be gigantic. There have even been reports of seeing the Taniwha as a floating log, which behaves in a disconcerting way. I'm curious to what people witnessed.
There are many legends about the Taniwha. In one, "The Taniwha of Kaipara", three sisters went out to pick berries. One of the sisters was particularly beautiful. The Taniwha caused havoc on their walk back and the sisters fled. The Taniwha caught the sisters one by one, trying to capture the beautiful one. On succeeding, he then took her back to his cave. Many years passed and the woman bore the Taniwha six sons, with three like their father and three fully human. She educated all her sons and in particular taught her human sons the art of war, helping them to fashion and use weapons. The human sons then killed their three taniwha brothers, and eventually their father. They all went back to their homes. (source: Reed A,W.,`Reed book of Māori mythology`(2004), pp.285-286)
In more recent times, the Taniwha spirits being referenced in both court cases and in various legal negotiations. Beliefs in the existence of Taniwha have a potential for controversy where they have been used to block or modify development and infrastructure schemes, such as the case where a major highway was rerouted to protect the area the Taniwha resided on.
What do you think of this mythical monster? How would you react if you saw a log acting in an unusual fashion? What monster should I cover next?