In 1896 several of the New Zealand newspaper published a letter from three gentlemen who claimed they had witnesses seeing a 'sea serpent' it's interesting to note that at the end of the letter the writers mentioned there was also a large whale spouting further out. More than likely, what the three men saw was a whale broaching rather than any strange unknown creature from out of mythology. Somehow the last sentence answers the writer's own questions perhaps?
WAS IT A SEA SERPENT?
SEA MONSTER SEEN OFF THE NORTHERN COAST.
We have received the following letter dated Mangawhare, Northern Wairoa, August 23rd, 1896 :—" We the under- signed saw to-day on the West Coast, at the back of Mangawhare, at about 12 o'clock, a very strange sea monster, about half-a-mile outside of the breakers. It appeared to be the shape of an eel, and reared straight out of the water to a height of about 20 feet, and then fell like a tree, sending up spray at a height of about 40 or 50 feet. We saw it rise about a dozen times, and the last time it rose it turned backwards, showing a tremendous open mouth at it fell. It was black on the back, and white underneath. It appeared to be about four or five feet thick. We watched for some time after, but saw no more of it. About a mile further out we saw a large whale spouting at the same time. —We are, etc., James Evans, Chas. Flavell, Thos. Bryan.
Auckland Star 28 August 1896