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No. 59 (June 1967)
– 7 –

The Tohunga and the Taniwha

There was once a tohunga who visited Ngai Tahu at Te Umukaha, which the Pakehas call Temuka, in order to remove the evils that afflicted those people. He disposed of the evils, and of the tapu. After he had completed his task on the land, this wise old man said that there was one evil that remained: it was in the sea.

Then he arranged for three men to accompany him to the fresh-water lake. When they reached the lake the wise man told his companions to remain there on the land. Then he went forward to the sea to bring forth the inhabitant of that place, this creature Taniwha. After some time the demon floated up to the surface. It was through the tohunga's power that the taniwha was affected; it made its way to the entrance to the lake, and died there in the breakers on the shore.

The tohunga and his companions returned to the village, and he told them to cut up the fish. All the people went to look at it, and when they arrived they cut it into six pieces and left it there. They slept, and in the morning when they awoke the fish was not there: it had gone back to the sea.

Three days later a log was cast up on the shore. A Pakeha saw the log and cut it up, chopping it into six pieces. Then he went to fetch his bullock team to drag up the wood. When he returned the wood was not there: it had gone back to the sea again. It was just like Whaiwhaiā, the log from the Waikato that was the origin of the saying, ‘The many stranding-places of Whaiwhaiā’.