The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






The Whale Rider

The Whale Rider is a 1987 book by New Zealand Maori author Witi Tame Ihimaera.

The 2003 movie Whale Rider is an adaptation of the book, with the author's involvement. It was released in New Zealand on January 30, 2003. The world premiere was on September 9, 2002, at the Toronto International Film Festival.



The movie's plot follows the story of twelve-year-old Pai (or Kahu, in the book), who is the only living child in the line of the tribe's chiefly succession because of the death of her twin brother and mother during childbirth. By tradition, the leader should be the first-born son--a direct patriarchal descendant of Paikea, the one who rode atop a whale from Hawaiki. However, Pai is female.

While the plot of the book is basically the same, it pays less attention specifically to Pai/Kahu, and mainly focuses from a perspective of narration by the girl's uncle.

Production and awards

Produced by South Pacific Pictures , on the East Coast of New Zealand's North Island, the movie has received highly favourable praise from international critics and audiences. It was directed and adapted from the novel by Niki Caro .

The movie has won a number of international film-festival awards, including:


The movie stars Keisha Castle-Hughes as Paikea Apirana, Rawiri Paratene as Koro, Vicky Haughton as Nanny Flowers, and Cliff Curtis as Porourangi. It was adapted and directed by Niki Caro . Castle-Hughes was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance, becoming the youngest actress yet nominated for the award.

See Also: New Zealand literature, New Zealand cinema

External links

Last updated: 05-12-2005 14:52:27
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04