Rūaumoko’s Promise

By Steph Matuku

This is a piece of prose that was featured in an anti-fracking art exhibition in New Plymouth, March 5 – 26 2017, at JD Reid Gallery. I’m not fully down with fracking, I think it’s harmful and unnecessary. I wrote this from the point of view of Rūaumoko, the God of Earthquakes who resides in the belly of the Earth Mother, Papatūānuku.



I am Rūaumoko, youngest child of Papatūānuku and Ranginui. When my siblings left home, I remained. I did not want to go. My mother needs me.

The Underworld is vast and empty, lit by crackling fire and molten rock. I bathe in foaming hot springs and play with the shimmering ropes that hang down from the World of Light.

And everywhere, is my mother. She is life and warmth and healing and contentment.

She holds me close and sings to me and I sleep and dream in her arms, loving her.

She can also be very annoying. Sometimes she clings too tightly. Her embrace is suffocating, her scent cloying in its vapid milky sweetness.

I display my displeasure in unrestrained rage, a towering tempest of tantrum. I beat my fists against her. I bite. I scream. I hurl myself to the ground and kick until rock becomes dust and the whole of the Underworld shudders and writhes in sympathy. I am infinite fury.

Sometimes I hold my breath until I turn an intriguing shade of purple.

My mother watches until my temper is spent and then she lifts me and says, hush, darling boy. You make your mother sad.  I love you. I love you. Now, hush.

And so I lie contrite and comforted, to dream again of peace and beauty and happiness.

It’s a cycle, an endless cycle of dreaming and disruption, of restlessness and rage, slumber and serenity.

It’s a rhythm none should disturb for who on earth has the right to interfere with the life of a God?

For if I am injured, if I am molested by any whilst living out the span of days in my rightful place, my mother’s wrath will be extreme.

My mother would kill for me.

My mother would die for me.

And if my mother dies…

Then you shall see a tantrum of magnitude.

I can promise you that.

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