Mythical monster threatens New Zealand rail project

July 26th, 2011 - 10:23 am ICT by IANS  

Auckland, July 26 (IANS) Do not destroy the grounds protected by the “monster”, New Zealand’s indigenous people told the government and asked it to stop work on a $2 billion railway project.

Horotiu - a mythical swamp monster or “taniwha” - hides under the city of Auckland, according to the Maori Statutory Board.

The board has protested against the 2.6 billion New Zealand dollars ($2.1 billion) project, saying it will destroy the grounds once patrolled by the taniwha, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported.

The project in Auckland is aimed at improving the minimal train network and free the city’s car-filled streets.

Glenn Wilcox, a member of the Maori Statutory Board, said the project did not take into account the monster, which “was here first”.

The taniwha is a mythical protector with a powerful role in Maori folklore, but get it angry and you are in trouble, 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.

This is not the first time a taniwha has threatened to stall a project in the country.

In 2002, construction of a road between Auckland and Hamilton was halted after protesters complained 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 road.

Ranginui Walker, a Maori elder, said: “You have to placate local demons, deities, taniwha. Don’t tempt fate.”

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