Discovering Maori Culture through Journeys in Film: Whale Rider. Polynesia. Reprinted with permission from tvnovellas.info Handout 1. Lesson 1 SOCIAL. Below are selections from Witi Ihimaera's novel The Whale Rider and some background to novel (plot summary, country, library resources, film version). Read "The Whale Rider" by Witi Ihimaera available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your first download. Eight-year-old Kahu craves her.
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Speculate about the content of the film Whale Rider. Whale RideR - TeacheR sheeT .. sources/AdditionalsupportinconjunctionwithEdges2/tvnovellas.info In a small New Zealand coastal village, Maori claim descent from Paikea, the Whale Rider. In every generation for more than one thousand years, a male heir . The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera. Introduction. New Windmill titles are supported with Student and Teaching resource sheets to engage students with the novel.
The bull whale leads his whale herd into places of refuge as they attempt to avoid their arch-predator: man. The old whale remembers that things were not always like this; once, he had swam alongside a man and held that little creature dearer to him than any other. The whale—lost in joy—dove down to the depths and the man cried out in fear. That day, the whale recalls, he nearly lost his dearest friend. As he reminisces his longing for the past grows; now every time a human appears in the distance, only the combined effort of the whole herd can stop him for dashing off in loving pursuit. These ancient ones had come from the east and each became the progenitor of a different people. He brought with him life-giving spears, which brought bounty and plenty to the previously harsh land.
This time, Koro warms a little bit towards her, but only by a small, barely discernable margin. Rawiri though grows closer and closer to his little niece, bringing her to work with him and making sure she does not become too bored staying at home with Nanny Flowers.
Whenever he would see her though, he would yell at her to go away. Thus she did not get to see when Koro took the boys out to sea to explain to them the sacred nature of their fishing grounds. These grounds, he said, were all known and marked by their ancestors.
They try not to enter the grounds of other people and they seek protection for their own grounds from the whales and other sea creatures. As Koro explains this he becomes more and more sad, pointing out that man has become so tempted by commercial gain that he overfishes and maybe even hunt whales.
Now, Koro says, their sea has become empty. That evening, Koro assembles the boys again to recount to them a tale of huge import. He tells them of a time when he was young boy and when whaling was a huge pastime of the people of Whangara. His own uncle would go whaling and one time brought him along. He narrates the tale of that hunt: the beauty of the whales, their prestige, their power and then the harpooning and the struggle and the death and then the skinning and carving of the whale.
Kahu, hearing this dark tale after sneaking near to the room, cries out in terror and sadness. The next day though, Rawiri finds Kahu outside, standing calmly near the shore while three silver shapes leapt by her in the sea.
For them, lineage is a living link to the past, it is how tradition and culture is passed on—most importantly it is how chieftaincy and leadership is passed on. He is caught between the cultural ideal of male leadership and the practical reality of only having female descendants; thus there are two elements of the culture seemingly coming to a conflict, and this is what weighs so heavily on Koro and what eventually forces him to make a choice and develop and mature. This importance of lineage is exemplified elsewhere as well.
Thus through the emphasis placed on genealogy, the reader learns more about the general thought process of this people, and the conflicts which weigh on them because they see lineage as a living connection to their past. He becomes more than just a stubborn mean old great-grandfather.
Instead the reader can start to see a man weighed down by worries in an almost tragic way. Although he is not unambiguously heroic, through the deeper characterization he does begin to show some characteristics of the literary archetype of the tragic hero. He is the leader of his people; he is weighed down by huge worries and responsibilities.
He is doing all he can to solve those and to preserve what he has learned from his own teachers by teaching and striving.
And most importantly--in terms of this literary archetype--he has a fatal flaw, which is his unwillingness to break the rules of his tradition at all, even in order to preserve that tradition. Yet he is unable to accept any of that because he cannot break the rule of patriarchal leadership—even though breaking that single rule would likely lead to a better outcome for his people.
The author slowly builds up the different signs of her greatness and the plot begins to gather pace as step-by-step Kahu comes closer to her fate. This, then, is the part of the story that is the rising conflict. So when she cries in the movies after watching the whale dies, we began to think that something is up, a sense only multiplied later that evening when we see Kahu mimicking the sound of whales and the distant whales at sea seemingly responding.
Something, the author is subtly suggesting, is supernatural about this girl. Next we see Kahu become inconsolably upset when she hears about the whaling incident, a reaction perhaps understandable in an innocent child.
Less understandable are her actions the next day, when she seems to be in communication with dolphins as she stands along the seashore. The author gives these events in bits and pieces and does not make a clear and firm demonstration of some supernatural aspect afoot.
This is to give the reader a taste of this idea and then leave the reader wandering what will happen; it is a way to force the reader to keep reading to learn what exactly is going up and how all these strange things will play out.
This section also includes another developing conflict, which is the conflict between man and nature. While in the previous section it seemed like nature was awaiting man and that man was to fulfill nature now it seems that over time the dynamic has shifted.
The author points out subtly that nature has become afraid of man. It stayed in Honolulu theaters well beyond the run of all other movies this year. This fact belies the common wisdom that to be successful, a movie must have Hollywood movie stars, avoid complicated subject matter, and stay away from particularity of story, language, or culture—and if it is a story about people of color, it must be told ie, interpreted for the audience from the perspective of a white person.
Instead, Whale Rider's opening narration begins: "In the old days the land felt a great emptiness. It was waiting for someone to love it, waiting for a leader, and he came on the back of a whale, a man to lead a new people, our ancestor Paikea.
It is based on the novel The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera, which in turn is based on an ancestral story of the Whangara people of the east coast of Aotearoa New Zealand. The film is a story about deep losses, relationships, and healing. The film begins with simultaneous birth and death: the death of a woman and her son, and the birth of a daughter Paikea, who narrates: "There was no gladness when I was born—everyone was waiting for the firstborn boy to lead, but he died, andI didn't.
Chanting over the dead grandson, Koro orders his wife, Nancy Flowers, [End Page ] to take the infant Paikea away, but she refuses and insists, "No. You'll hold her.
You will acknowledge your granddaughter. Paikea narrates: "My Koro wished in his heart that I'd never been born, but he changed his mind. As they ride, she holds onto the carved whale's tooth he wears around his neck marking the fact that he is chief—the position she would inherit if she were a boy.
Whale Rideris a story that combines the deep enduring power of myth—of eternal connections—with very contemporary details.