The Whale Rider

Essay by dulcita518University, Bachelor'sA+, November 2004

download word file, 6 pages 4.0 1 reviews

The Whale Rider is a contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph. It brings a flood of emotions to any viewer as everyone sees a moral for themselves, perhaps different to the next. This film is a magnificent portrayal of life in a tribe based upon ancient laws and mentality.

As legend has it, Kahutia-te-Rangi, ancestor of the people of Te Tai Rawhiti ("the place washed by the eastern tide"), travelled from Hawaiiki (land of the Ancients). His canoe capsized on its way. He escaped certain death on the back of a whale that took him to shore. To commemorate this voyage, he was named Paikea. His descendants live on Whangara, on the east coast of the north side of New Zealand. Today, hundreds of years later, the marae people still have Paikea, the Whale Rider, as their figurehead on their ridgepole.

In 1986, author Witi Ihimaera, originally from New Zealand, now living in New York City, saw a whale stranded up the Hudson River.

This sight brought back memories of his people and made him homesick for the area he grew up in. He thought of the story of the ancestor of his area. Over a period of just three weeks, inspired by his culture and background, he wrote "the Whale Rider". It is a story of Kahutia-te-Rangi, a story of Whangara, of small-town rural New Zealand, and of the changing and breaking of years of Maori tradition and teaching. It tells of the Maori chief whose eldest grandchild turns out to be a girl, and not the boy he wanted. This girl called Kahutia, or Kahu, could be the next chief.

Fourteen years later, a New Zealand movie begins taking the world by storm. Winning awards at Sundance; amazing critics at Toronto; stunning audiences at film...