The Whale Rider

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Eight-year-old Kahu, a member of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, fights to prove her love, her leadership, and her destiny. Her people claim descent from Kahutia Te Rangi, the legendary "whale rider." In every generation since Kahutia, a male heir has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir, and the aging chief is desperate to find a successor. Kahu is his only great-grandchild--and Maori tradition has no use for a girl. But when hundreds of whales beach themselves and threaten the future of the Maori tribe, it is Kahu who saves the tribe when she reveals that she has the whale rider's ancient gift of communicating with whales. Kahu is the eldest great-grandchild of Kori, the chief of the Maori in Whangara, Māori culture is rich with whale-riding stories and traditions. Many tribes have their own particular legends and heroes. The stories often tell of an originating ancestor’s arrival to New Zealand shores aboard a whale. These stories usually involve bitter betrayals, extraordinary feats of survival, and high adventure. The tradition of the famous whale-riding ancestor Paikea inspired the film Whale Rider. The word paikea often refers to humpback whales, but was the name of an individual whale in the most famous whale riding legend.  According to this legend, Paikea (the whale rider) assumed his name from this humpback whale which rescued him after his brother tried to drown him at sea. The whale later carried Paikea to the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, where he became the founder of the Ngāati Porou, a Māori tribe. Descendants of Paikea believe that he is buried on the far side of the small island Te Motu-o-Paikea, considered the fossilized remains of the whale itself. Māori sometimes remember significant events and stories about whales by naming islands and landforms after them. The names refer to, among other things, significant whale strandings, navigational pathways, and important journeys. Imbuing landmarks with...
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