Te mahi a tēnā ika, a te marakihau, he hurihuri i ngā waka māori. What that sea creature, the marakihau, did was overturn ordinary canoes.
Such is the legend of the marakihau, mythical sea denizens said to possess colossal ngongo, long tube like tongues with which they sucked up their prey. They would harass and swallow shore-living people or sea-travellers and their canoes, as well as fish. Ancient stories tell of men or women transformed into marakihau, a particular form of taniwha, after death.
Russell’s Pauline and James Yearbury created this stylised impression of the marakihau. The incised rimu panel is the latest of their works to be added to Russell Museum’s collection.
Sources: Best, Elsdon (1982). Maori religion and Mythology Part 2 pg 1477-8 / Williams, H.W. (1975) A Dictionary of the Maori Language. p180.