Hine-nui-te-pō & the Dominant Species

Hine-nui-te-pō lies down    next to the carpark
a fantail dancing over her fingers    go she says
the cars just sit there for hours on end
doing and saying nothing                she watches
as a person approaches                  listens to the
short chirp of the vehicle unlocked            what
bird was caught                              inside the key
                                           Where will this engine
go and what will            it do when it gets there
moving                                      from one place to
the next                           in the most destructive
way                a mammal
grunt in its                            non-existent throat
These machines look                like death to her
and she knows                  what death looks like.

essa may ranapiri (Ngāti Raukawa, Te Arawa, Ngāti Pūkeko, Clan Gunn) is a person who lives on Ngāti Wairere whenua. Author of ransack (2019) and ECHIDNA (2022), both from Te Herenga Waka University Press. PhD student looking at how poetry by tāngata takatāpui engages with atuatanga. Co-editor of Kupu Toi Takataapui | Takataapui Literary Journal with Michelle Rahurahu. They have a great love for language, LAND BACK and hot chips. Thanks as always go to their ancestors, who are everything. They will write until they're dead.

essa comments: 'The seed of the poem actually comes from a mural in a carpark in Ōtepoti of a dying lady with a pīwakawaka resting on her hand painted by the artist Bezt. It made me think, what would Hine-nui-te-pō see when looking at cars? The dominant species of the title is a reference to a short film called What on Earth! (1966), directed by Les Drew and Kaj Pindal, that posits that cars would be perceived as the dominant species on earth when perceived by aliens,
and that their main goal is to eradicate that parasite that is humans. They weren’t speaking directly to the climate catastrophe at the time, but it was striking to me how on the ball they were in ways.'

​Poem source details >


ECHIDNA (Te Herenga Waka University Press, 2022)