As a Pom who had not experienced the joys of living in Godzone during the construction of the Waikato Expressway, I was bemused to hear my Kiwi colleagues spend much of this week ranting about a ‘Taniwha’. Although I’ve made a point of learning some basic Maori phraseology so that I don’t become completed befuddled by the bilingual nature of some conversations – I now know that when I come home in the evening my wahine is expecting kai – this was entirely new ground.
When pressed, the rantee’s couldn’t exactly define what a Taniwha was – common consensus placed it somewhere between a tribal guardian and a monster and firmly in the realm of mythology – but their ire was raised by the fact that it was threatening to bugger up the proposed Auckland CBD rail tunnel.
The Taniwha in question – this one is called Horotiu and even has a Twitter account – apparently dwells in a subterranean stream somewhere in the region of Queen Street and should someone thoughtlessly build a train line through its home will cause all kinds of mischief with public transport. At least that is what Glenn Wilcox, a member of the Auckland Maori Advisory Board, tells us.
I suspect Mr Wilcox is not to be believed.
Let’s be honest, once the rail tunnel is built Horotiu will have no chance of competing against ARTA who, by that stage, will have a full two decades of hands-on experience in buggering up public transport. And I also suspect he’ll still be having far too much fun messing with the heads of used car purchasers.
As far as I was concerned, this weeks’ blog would practically write itself. I got up nice and early on Saturday morning and travelled down to Hamilton to look at the half dozen Subaru Imprezas which were littering Trade Me. Every single one of them appeared nice, shiny and respectable, which would only leave me needing to select the pick of the bunch and return to Auckland. Once home, the current Mrs Grimley would swoon at my brilliance and provide a steady supply of cold beer as I bashed out six hundred or so words on the simplicity of purchasing a used Scoob. The ever expanding motoring lexicon that is this blog would then be put to bed for another seven days leaving me waiting to see if I could top my current PB of three reader comments. Easy.
Unfortunately I had reckoned without the Taniwha.
In between logging off Trade Me at some ungodly hour on Friday and arriving in Hamilton at sparrow-fart on Saturday Horotiu, or one of his buddies, had quickly been around every Impreza for sale in the Waikato and conducted some skulduggery. Paintwork that was gleaming in pictures became blotchier than a teenager’s face, immaculate interiors were transformed into something resembling the bedding of an elderly and incontinent Irish wolfhound and an alleged ‘great runner’ wouldn’t even start.
Net result: half a tank of petrol was wasted running fruitlessly around the Tron and I had to return home empty-handed. This did not go down well with my good lady who disappeared out for the evening to tell all her mates what an epic failure I am. Thanks very much, Taniwha.
Of course this has to be taken as a lesson learned and the great Subaru hunt will continue with suitable precautions taken. If anyone knows a suitable karakia to placate an auto-Taniwha, I’d be delighted to hear from you.