Awarua the taniwha at Mana Island

This one is part of an annual exhibition at Pataka, our local Porirua Museum/Gallery. Awarua is our Porirua Harbour taniwha. The young Awarua wanted to be able to migrate with his friends the birds. So, secretly by night, he taught himself to fly. He crashed twice on his first public flight – first carving out a gully, then into Mana Island, flattening the top of it.

This Awarua is based on drawings (16thC possibly) by Maori of a lizard taniwha found in a cave at Opihi in South Canterbury, New Zealand’s first art gallery.

From –

“Taniwha are supernatural creatures whose forms and characteristics vary according to different tribal traditions. Though supernatural, in the Māori world view they were seen as part of the natural environment. Taniwha have been described as fabulous monsters that live in deep water. Others refer to them as dragons – many taniwha looked like reptiles, had wings and ate people. They could also take the shape of animals such as sharks, whales, octopuses, or even logs. Some taniwha could change their shape, moving between different forms”

They often had social purpose, such as persuading the children not to swim in dangerous places. They could also explain natural formations, rocks, hills and shapes, sometimes involving their thrashing tails, or as here.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s