The Whale Rider
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, Maori 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 Ngaati Porou, a Maori 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. Maori 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 the memory of whales shows the reverence with which these creatures are be regarded.
This is the indication of many islands and clusters of land surrounded by heavy tropical bodies of water; bodies of water with an abundance of wildlife inhabitant. The Maori are a deeply spiritual and traditional tribe that relies on the healthy relationship they establish with nature to continue to help the people prosper. Kahutia Te Rangi settled in Whangara, upon his whale, “and brought with him the life-giving forces that would enable us to live in close communion with the world. ” Maori respect what the land and sea has to offer and in turn remain grateful for them.
The presence of the abundance of land and sea aides in the understanding of the importance of communication and oneness in tribal culture. But, in the recent years around the birth of Kahu, the Maori have lost their ability to communicate successfully with nature and the whales. Kahu who possesses that innate gift helps to reestablish this connection. For Kahu getting the tribe, and more importantly the chief, her great-grandfather Koro Apriana, to accept and recognize her gift is complicated because of gender signifiers.
Koro Apriana is a strong traditional believer that the descents of the hierarchy be male, unless the tribe will perish. When first finding out that Kahu was female he disgustedly proclaimed, “A girl. I will have nothing to do with her. She has broken the male line of decent in our tribe. ” Koro Apriana at that time was unaware of Kahu’s gift and his attitude towards her stayed unchanging throughout. In fact the gender of Kahu was the primary cause of distress for Koro and the entire tribe. It was because of Koro’s rejection of Kahu that threw off the balance of sea and human kind.
Others in Kahu’s family, her Uncle Rawiri and her Nanny Flowers, Koro’s wife, saw the potential in Kahu but were never successful in convincing Koro. Instead Koro blamed Nanny Flowers for the reason the tribe may parish because of her strong female side. Kahu’s gender is a representation of her human face. Her face, as well as her body, is female however she proves to be a cohabitation of male and female. She’s kind, gentle and carrying but has the ability to be a leader and a ruler of the sea. In Kahu is the oneness that the Maori ancestors believe produces a great communion.
Koro’s inability to look past Kahu’s gender is because of his traditional tattoo. Koro is one of the eldest in the tribe. He strongly believes in the male influence as the determiners of the Maori and offers instructions on Maori tradition as well as language to only males in Whangara. A tattoo is permanent so Kahu’s birth didn’t hold any value to Koro because she was female she did not fit into tradition; she was not a part of the tattoo. Koro also often dismisses suggestions from Nanny Flowers because she is a women and he looks strongly to the males of the tribe to satisfy his need for the men to stay strong.
In one of Koro’s instructions he took the young men out on a boat, past the bay where the water would suddenly turn dark green. Koro dropped a carved stone into the ocean and proclaimed, “One of you must bring that stone back to me. ” None of the young pupils were able to retrieve the stone for Koro and his hope was lost and he was broken from not being able to see a powerful future for the Maori. Koro was looking for the next generation of the tattoo among his pupils but they were not there. The significant detail apart of tradition was Kahu; a communion of male and female and nature and humankind.
Shortly after seen Koro upset Kahu set out and retrieved the stone for him. This marked the first of a series of miraculous things Kahu would do for Koro and the tribe. In the beginning it was sad how the grandpa discriminated on his granddaughter because she wasn’t a boy, but in the end she made a differences in there generation and she brought a different thing into the family tribe, her family was proud of her, and she never gave up to try and prove her grandpa and everyone else wrong, in the end of the story her grandfather was destined to be the chief of the tribe even tho he didn’t have faith in her he she forgave him and.
Through the cultural lens dealing with gender can be discriminating hard, guys often think that girl’s can’t do thing’s that guy’s do They tend to think that it s guys job or that girls or women or weak and not cut out for the job, and gender can do it if they put there heart to it and give it there all and they can end up having a hard time doing it or doing it really good and having the good out comes in the end, in the end of this store / movie the girl Kahu was tested to prove the others wrong and show them what she came do , or that she can do a leaders job just as well as the guy even so maybe better then them , when she showed them that she can do it to , they were all shocked and amazed and it was a different thing to see because she was a young lady doing a males job, they were proud of her and glad they got to see what se has done to change the tribe family , the change was a good change for everyone so that both genders male and female could carry out the cultural tradition of the family and keep the tradition alive and going , without no problems on who’s going to carry on it , both genders can be able to, it dosent matter if you’re a female or male you have the abilty to change it and make a difference if Kahu can do it when she was eight years old so can everyone else can she give hope faith and courage to take on the ablity of a male .