Whale Rider

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Whale Rider is a 2002 drama film directed by Niki Caro, based on the novel of the same name. A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to full fill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize. The film whale rider follows the story of a young girl Paikea; the lonely daughter of Porourangi. Pai’s mother died giving birth to her and her twin brother who also dies. Porourangi was heartbroken by his loss and leaves his daughter to be brought up by her grandparents. Also leaving his village and the Maori traditions behind him. Porourangi’s father, Koro, is the chief of Whangar tribe but his beliefs of the traditional cultures blind him to his granddaughter’s potential as the leader of the tribe. It is only when disaster strikes Pai can prove to her Grandfather that the Maori culture lives on. The culture and traditions of the Maori people are significant to the plot of the whale rider. The Maori religion considers nature as a living thing, closely bound to man through ritual as we see many times during the film. The setting of the film is very important, as is the traditional beliefs that only a male can lead the Maori people. In the movie we first see this when Koro sets up the school for the young boys to trial and become the leader of the tribe; Whilst this is happening, Pai is always secretly watching and trying to learn the ways of the ancestors, showing her strength and determination as the true leader should.

Pai’s relationship with her grandfather, Koro, is threatened by her strength and determination to adapt and so carry on traditions that have been important within the Maori culture for generations. Tradition dictates that in every generation the chief’s eldest son will take over his role
As Pai grows up, her belief that she can become chief grows stronger. She loves her grandfather and desperately tries to prove herself but Koro cannot adapt and her determination constantly threatens their relationship.

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