NEW ZEALAND – The Swamp Monster is threatening to derail a project to improve the New Zealand city’s traffic gridlock.
The North Island city is trying to move ahead with a multi-billion railway tunnel project to improve the minimal train network and free up its car-filled streets.
But Horotiu, the Swamp Monster, put the NZ$2.6 billion ($2.1 billion) project in doubt after an indigenous Maori board protested that it will destroy grounds once patrolled by the make-believe taniwha, pronounced tani-fa.
Glenn Wilcox, a member of the Maori Statutory Board, which protects Maori interests, complained that the plan did not take into account the monster, which “was here first”.
The taniwha is a protector with a powerful role in Maori folklore, but get it angry and you’re in trouble, Mr Wilcox said.
“As kaitiaki, or guardians, they protect people, but they also get up and bite you if they do not like what you are doing,” he said.
The local council has since convinced the board that the correct consultation had taken place, putting the popular project back on the table.
The board accepted its needs had been met but not before it was invoiced thousands of dollars for public relations advice relating to the monster.
Surprisingly, its not the first time a taniwha has threatened to up-end a council project.
In 2002, construction of a stretch of road between Auckland and Hamilton was halted after protesters complained that it was cutting through the domain of a revered one-eye taniwha.
The taniwha was thought to be responsible for a number of deaths on the stretch of road.
Ranginui Walker, a respected Maori elder, said at the time: “You have to placate local demons, deities, taniwha. Don’t tempt fate.”