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In Māori mythology, taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [ˈtanifa]) are beings that live in deep pools in rivers, dark caves, or in the sea, especially in places with dangerous currents or deceptive breakers (giant waves). Taniwha is pretty much translated as "monster", and they feature in stories across the islands.

They're actually more guardian type figures, protecting something (location/bloodline/tradition) but people remember them best for the punishment of transgressors. My personal understanding is also that many did not have physical form unless they needed it, like so many other guardian creatures across the world.

Maori didn't have a written language, so any depictions are oral tradition or drawings/carvings. Of course oral records tend to change over the tellings, and art is influenced by the style of the area, so taniwha could be sinuous or stocky, clawed or webbed, humanoid or reptilian, according to where they are/what tribe they are from.

When missionaries tried to explain them, they often got called "dragons" because carved textures could be scales.

A creature like this - a scary monster that protects something, and can take any number of grotesque forms, seems like a great idea for a haunt. Maybe it is trying to protect the secret of the house, or punish the trespassers on sacred land, or maybe it is trying to protect you from the evil therein, acting as a scary protagonist like Allen Hopps uses.

Gargoyles, while grotesque and frightening, were conceived as opponents to evil, and the taniwha may be another example of that tradition. Inspiration can be found anywhere and while a water dragon may not be the most obvious creature for an AZ haunt, the idea behind the monster could be applied to anything from the Mogollon Monster to an original golem you invent!

Happy haunting!