Whale Rider


“In the old days, the land felt a great emptiness. It was waiting, waiting to be filled up, 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.”

Whale Rider is the incredible story of a young girl, named after her people’s ancestor Paikea, who strives to gain the acceptance of her family by showing them that she can be the leader that her deceased twin brother was destined to be. As a kid I had a passion for all things Polynesian. I even took Polynesian dance for six years and performed in an outfit similar to the one Paikea is wearing above. I still have that same talisman tucked away somewhere in my room. Despite being one of the few white girls in my dance class I managed to learn a lot about the pride that Polynesians have for their culture. Especially that they don’t like being compared to Hawaiians, they are Polynesian to the core. However, I had never heard of the story of their mythic ancestor Paikea. Watching this movie I was fascinated with this legend of the whale rider and how it ties in with their culture. As well as the chants that they would sing in times of hope and in times of loss. Throughout the film I felt as if I was on an emotional roller coaster holding my breath for the moment Paikea’s grandfather realized that she truly was the descendant of their greatest ancestor. It wasn’t until the end when Pai was riding into the ocean on the back of the whale, meanwhile I am bawling my eyes out, that Koro realizes what he has been blind to this whole time, his granddaughter truly is Paikea. Took him long enough!


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