About The Author
Ihimaera Witi is a novelist, anthologist and librettist. He was born in Gisborne in 1944. He has the distinction of being the first Maori writer to publish both a book of short stories and a novel. Ihimaera was interested in writing from an early age, and recalls scrawling stories across the whole wall of his room at the family farm at Whakarau. In 1969 he began writing seriously. His first story, ‘The Liar’, was accepted by the NZ Listener in May of the following year. From the start, he saw writing as a valuable opportunity to express in print his experience of being a Maori. Ihimaera loved the culture of the Maori people. A lot of description on the sweep of the bay, the island that looks like a whale, the whales and their relation to the people whose legend are told, carvings, interior designs in the meeting house and food prove this. In !972, the then Prime Minister read his first book and decided that Ihimaera would be valuable in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During his time with Foreign Affairs he worked for the New Zealand High Commission in Canberra and spent four years in New York and Washington, two of them as New Zealand consul.
The Whale Rider was written in New York and Cape Cod in the space of three weeks. Ihimaera was inspired to write the book in 1985 while living in an apartment in New York overlooking the Hudson River. Ihimaera had taken his daughters to a number of action movies. They asked him why in all of those movies the boy was the hero and the girl was always the one who was helpless. So he decided to Write a novel in which the girl is the hero and he finished The Whale Rider in three weeks.
The book was first published in 1987 and has been reprinted numerous times. It is one of Ihimaera's best-loved books by adults and younger readers alike. In January 2003 it was released as a movie on international screens. Filmed on the East Coast of New Zealand, the film has been widely acclaimed and seen in cinemas...