The “Whale Rider”, filmed in New Zealand and directed by Niki Caro, is a film based on the novel of the same name, by Witi Ihimaera. Many of the extras in the film were actual residents of the town Whangara. The film is about a girl, Paikea Apirana, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes in her debut role, who battles to gain her grandfather’s respect, and to become the chief of the tribe. By tradition, the leader of the tribe should be the first son, however Pai’s twin brother had died at birth, along with her mother, and due to Pai being female, and she technically cannot inherit the leadership from her Grandfather. Pai’s grandfather, Koro, is the leader of the tribe and is at first angry, of the death of his grandson and only being left with a granddaughter, which is ‘worthless’ to him, as he believes the role of the chief is should be reserved for males only. Gender issues are still a major factor in our current society. The fact that Pai cannot be leader of the tribe because she is female, despite of her successful attempts to constantly prove that she can be a leader, by first being persistent to achieve the role, as well as learning traditional songs and dances, even though there is no precedent for a woman to do so, is one of the many examples of issues that the “Whale Rider” arises. For a small period of time, Pai decided to leave with her father, because Koro is mistreating her by blaming her of the many troubles the tribe faces. However she finds that the whales are calling her back, and returns home. In hope of finding a new leader, Koro forms a cultural school for the village boys, teaching them traditional Maori chants, and how to use a taiaha. Pai’s Nanny had told her, that her uncle Rawiri had won a taiaha tournament when he was younger, and Pai secretly learns from him. Koro is enraged when he finds out about Pai learning how to use a taiaha, and even more so when she wins in a fight against one of the boys, Hemi. Koro’s relationship...
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