Well, don't say I didn't warn you. This week, Auckland Council Maori Board member Glen Wilcox was demanding to know when the city planned to let the taniwha Horotiu know about its plans to tunnel a rail loop through his Queen St gully lair. The implication being that if not appeased, the supernatural being might kick up rough.

Anyone who has waited in vain for an 004 or 005 bus home on a cold evening will appreciate this is no laughing matter. Indeed, several years back I was pointing the finger of blame at Horotiu - though I didn't know his name then - for gobbling up buses. Despairing about the way buses leaving the bottom of Queen St, according to the new-fangled electronic passenger information boards anyway, never made it uptown to the Victoria St stop, I asked if there was a giant taniwha lurking in the Queen St drains waiting to swallow them up.

It seems I was on to something: a subterranean being with a penchant not just for buses but, if Mr Wilcox is to be believed, for all public transport.

This comes as something of a surprise. In the 1830s, when the superstitious locals were "frightened at their own shadows", trader Joel Polack wrote with some relief that the taniwha "is supposed to pay little attention to white men". Probably because they were having so much fun scaring the locals.

Trader Polack suggested they should be called "millions", not taniwha, because of their "innumerable appelations". He said "the diavoli are found in every port, river, creek or lake ... and the sea is also said to be possessed of them. Thus the upsetting of a canoe, the breaking of a fishing line or hook, the rending of a net, or bite from a fish are laid to the charge of the ruthless taniwha". Some were regarded as protectors of the tribe, others as devourers and despoilers of maidens. And as befits every good monster story, there were also tales of heroic dragon slayers.

Nearly 200 years on, Maori seemed to have tamed their fears - and the taniwha. The poor old taniwha are now caged out the back like scary pitbulls, primed to growl loudly at any passing public infrastructure company employee.

It's unclear what Mr Wilcox meant when he told the councillors "there are always ways to placate taniwha". Presumably it was nothing more than a metaphorical attempt to demand a bigger say in the discussion.

Given that Aucklanders have been arguing the toss about this since the 1920s, my question would be, what's been holding him back for so long? The irony is, while Mr Wilcox is threatening Auckland powerbrokers with the revenge of Horotiu, most local politicians regard Transport Minister Steven Joyce as the much scarier taniwha.

Back in the mid-1990s, when plans were announced to supply Aucklanders with treated Waikato River water, there were dark mutterings from a tribe near Cambridge about persuading a local taniwha to foul the water supply around the planned Tuakau input pipe. Nothing came of it.

More successful were the Ngati Naho of Meremere, who persuaded Transit New Zealand not to expand State Highway 1 across the swampy home of taniwha Karu Tahi. This turned out to be good advice. The engineers found a more stable and no more expensive route, nearby.

Around the same time, Maori in Northland failed to persuade the prison service not to upset a local taniwha by building a prison on thermal land at Ngawha. The taniwha got the last laugh here. The jail began sinking soon after completion, and more than $2 million has so far been spent on remedial work.

Hopefully, in this day and age, everyone sees taniwha in the same fairy tale realm as goblins, elves and fairies.

Which makes it hard for me to understand why anyone would bring them up as entities to be mollified in serious discussion on major infrastructural spending.

If Mr Wilcox has something on his mind, then better he spit it out, not talk in riddles about some make-believe character with a dislike of public transport called Horotiu. We've already got a Beehive full of real people in Wellington to cope with on that score.