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Whale Rider Leadership Essay

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 with Pai is eroded further when none of the boys succeeded at recovering the whale tooth he threw into the ocean – the traditional task of proving one would be worthy of a leader.

In an attempt to mend her relationship with her grandfather, Pai invites Koro to the performance that her school is putting on, in hope he would see that she had won an inter-school speech contest, and dedicating it to him and the traditions of the village. In her speech, Pai talks about her ancestors, how she wishes to be leader and that it wasn’t anybody’s fault that she was a girl or the death of her brother, that everything just happened. However, Koro was late to the performance, and as he was walking to the school, noticed several beached whales near their home.

The entire village attempts to keep the whales hydrated, and to push them back into the ocean, but all efforts prove unsuccessful. Koro sees this as a sign of his failure and despairs further. He scolds Pai for touching the whale because she “has done enough damage”. However, when Koro walks away she climbs onto the back of the largest whale, traditionally belonging to her legendary ancestor, Paikea – The Whale Rider, and coaxes it back to re-enter the ocean. The whale leads the entire pod back into the sea, Paikea holding onto its back, and nearly drowning in the process.

Everyone finds out and rushes to the beach. Nanny Flowers, crying, hands Koro the whale tooth Paikea had previously recovered to which he responds “Which one? ” Nanny then replies “What do you mean, ‘which one? ’”, and then walks away. When Pai is found and taken to the hospital, Koro sings her traditional Maori songs, seeks her forgiveness and declares her chief. The film ends with Nanny, Hemi, Shilo and the rest of the village, along the beach, celebrating and watching as the waka, including Pai and her grandfather, father and uncle is being rowed out to sea.

Whale Rider: The Maori Culture Essay

Reflective Introduction
The purpose of this reflective outline is to demonstrate a thorough understanding of theories, concepts, and/or strategies relating to cultural and social religions. “Whale Rider” (Caro, 2002) , is a depictive representation of a cultural religion that has survived on the belief of male inheritance as their form of guidance; however, history has shown that change is inevitable. For example, throughout history, religion has played a pivotal role in the development of individuals, including the evolution of societies. This shows that because religion/s around the world have practiced their core beliefs in an attempt to guide humanities behaviors, yet , as we can observe with the “Whale Rider,” even the most influential community and cultural leaders can become miscued in their ideologies. Because The Maori of New Zealand have developed deep seated beliefs within natural creatures; Katu is term used to relate to their god (Maori.com, 2014) steaming for their ancestral Polynesian descendants. In addition to what can be observed, such as beliefs, practices, and/or symbolic terminologies, each religion will ensure its presidential knowledge is passed to those who receive it accordingly. The factual concept stands and history has proven is evolution that without guidance and continuous religious and cultural support, decedents of a heritage may become lost and/or miscued within their mislead ideology. Although many religions are centered on the belief of normality’s cultural expectance, often times we can observe drastic changes in the reorganization of a cultural religion.
Nga Atua- The Gods

Religions across the globe have conceptualized a belief, generally surrounding the implementations and implications of their chosen deity; The Maori is no exception. For example, most well developed religions are the derivative of a single courageous act by an individual whom becomes the producer of cultural inspiration and guidance, passing the teaching of a set forth valued practice. This shows that the Maori do not believe in a single deity, however, their “Atua” in which they honor, are ancestors of the pas, represented within living creatures, in this case it would be closely tied to the free-spirited soul of a whale. Because of this concept, values have been instilled with a religion in order to provide followers with the sense of “hope” in time of disparities. One of the more closely related beliefs, would be that of the Egyptian culture, in which different creatures were given authority over certain function of humanity, producing a so-called perfect platform of multiple avenues for prayers. In hind sight to other religious concepts, the Maori also effectively intertwined their cultural religion by practicing methods of honor, loyalty, and respect through one and honest communication. No one person can determine the fate and/or course of an individual path; however, religions can offer levels of personal structure in living...

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