Māori phenomenon caught on camera explains earthquake lights

By Peata Melbourne
  • Wellington
  • South Island

A Wellington resident from Syria captured this phenomenon on camera that is commonly known as earthquake lights. Māori refer to it as Rūrangi, a subset of the Kāhui Rū or cluster of quakes.

Che Wilson (Ngāti Rangi) explained the lights as an occurrence between Papatuanuku, Earth Mother, and Ranginui, Sky Father.

"Rūrangi is the connection and authority between Papatuanuku (Earth Mother), and Ranginui (Sky Father) during earthquakes. An energy emerges from the womb of Papatuanuku towards Ranginui," says Wilson

Earthquakes have long been accompanied by the appearance of luminescent sky glows that can take place any time before, during, or after seismological events. Geographic experts explain "earthquake lights" as being caused by the electronic properties of certain rocks when under tectonic stress. They can come in several different forms and stay in the sky for minutes.

These 'earthquake lights' have been known to materialize around continental rifts and produce lights that look like auroras producing white and blue colours in the sky. These lights usually only appear during earthquakes that have a magnitude 5.0 or higher

Wilson says, "This morning, the sky was bright and beaming. That is a sign of the bond between Papa (Earth Mother) and Rangi (Sky Father), a bond known as Tahu-ā-rangi. That's when you see volcanoes exploding, quakes occurring and new islands or hills are created."

This phenomenon was also witnessed during the Christchurch earthquake in 2011.