Tradition and Identity in Whale Rider
Whale Rider is a 2002 movie that follows Paikea “Pai” Apirana, a 12-year old Māori girl in New Zealand who aspires to become the chief of her tribe. However, her grandfather (Koro) is very traditional and believes that this role can only be held by a man. Pai’s twin brother, who died at birth, was supposed to fill that role. Koro at first rejects his granddaughter because of the loss of his grandson, but they eventually develop a close, but strained, bond. The movie primarily focuses on the relationship between Pai and Koro and the conflict that arises between them as Pai attempts to learn skills that are traditionally reserved for boys in their village.
The discussion guide in this tool provides questions that highlight the relationship between tradition, values and identity portrayed in Whale Rider. After viewing the movie, participants will discuss these questions and reflect on how they see some of the themes play out in their own lives.