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Transcript of Whale Rider
A Film by Niki Caro
Based on the book by Witi Ihimaera
Te Reo Maori language
Wharenui Meeting house
Taiaha Fighting stick
Mau rakau Stick fighting
Marae Meeting place
Maori- Indigenous people of New Zealand.
Believed to have migrated from Polynesia in canoes
Have land rights and a treaty with the British, somewhat like the Native Americans have with the USA
Rub noses (as
opposed to a kiss or hand-shake)
Tattoos or “moko"
Predominantly a male activity
Women restrict these tattoos to the chin, upper lip, and nostrils
Increasing in popularity to preserve the culture
The club was a main fighting weapon
Bulging eyes and tongue were meant to intimidate opponents.
Warrior "Haka" Dance
The figures in Maori carving, with very rare exceptions, are not religious, but secular. They do not represent idols, but rather renowned ancestors of the tribe.
Maori Art / Carvings
The large carved meeting house (whare runanga) was usually named after an important ancestor and, in most parts of the country, was a symbol of that ancestor
Meeting House Carvings
Maori believe the sperm whale holds spiritual significance
Teeth/ jawbones are given to Maori as guaranteed by the “Treaty of Waitangi”
Each Sperm Whale tooth is worth about $200
Poaching- $250,000 fine
The word Paikea often refers to humpback whales, but was the name of an individual whale in the most famous Maori 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.
Legend of Paikea
The whale later carried Paikea to the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, where he became the founder of the Ngāati Porou, a Māori tribe
Legend of Paikea
The film is set in Whangara, which is located on the east coast of New Zealand. It is present day.
Whale Rider Film
Paikea (or Pai)- a young girl and the central character in the film.
Koro- Paikea's grandfather
Porourangi- Pai's father
Nanny Flowers- Paikea's grandmother
Rawiri- Pai's uncle
In a small New Zealand coastal village, Maori claim descent from Paikea, the Whale Rider. In every generation for more than one thousand years, a male heir born to the Chief succeeds to this title.
The time is now. The Chief's eldest son, Porourangi, fathers twins- a boy and a girl, but the boy and his mother die in childbirth. The surviving girl is called Pai.
Grief-stricken, Porourangi leaves Pai to be raised by her grandparents. Koro, her grandfather who is the chief, refused to acknowledge Pai as the inheritor of the tradition and claims she is of no use to him. But her grandmother, Flowers, sees more than a broken line, she sees a child in desperate need of love
The film is based on the book The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera. Ihimaera was inspired to write the book in 1985 while living in an apartment in New York overlooking the Hudson River.
"I heard helicopters whirling around and the ships in the river using all their sirens-a whale had come up the Hudson River and was spouting, Ihimaera recalls. " It made me think of my home town, Whangara and the whale mythology of that area."
The casting director for the film saw ten thousand children from numerous schools before narrowing it down to twelve. Despite no previous acting experience, eleven-year-old Keisha was chosen from thousands of girls. The films director, Nicki Caro, says, “Keisha Castle-Hughes just shone. She’s the heart of our film and she’s a gift.”
Casting of Pai