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Taniwha are legendary creatures in Maori tradition, similar to serpents and dragons in other cultures. Although supernatural, in the Maori world view taniwha are seen as part of the natural environment. The forms and characteristics of taniwha vary according to tribal traditions. Some are like giant lizards, sometimes with wings, or reptile-like sea creatures. Others take the shape of sharks or whales, or even logs of wood in a river.
Some can even change their shapes, moving between different forms. Taniwha are either male or female. They usually live in or near the water – lakes, rivers or the sea. They hide in lairs known as rua taniwha, which can be deep pools, caves, or dangerous waterways – areas that people avoid. A large number of taniwha are said to have come with the voyaging canoes that brought the Polynesian ancestors of the Maori people to Aotearoa.
In some traditions, taniwha were terrifying creatures that captured people and ate them. Occasionally, it was said, they would kidnap women to live with them as wives. These monsters would inevitably be killed and the women returned to their families.
Crucial to the stories of deadly taniwha are the heroic slayers who triumphed with their cunning and courage.
The ferocity and detailed characteristics of the taniwha have been beautifully illustrated by Dave Burke in this 1oz silver proof coin minted from 0.999 silver. This subject of many Māori myths and legends is portrayed emerging from turbulent waters which were said to be its favoured habitat.
This unique detailed taniwha design, features the denomination in both Māori and English. Artist is Dave Burke, New Zealand
This features the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Each coin is accompanied by an individually numbered certificate of authenticity, and displayed in an elegant case.