Whale Rider: A Film

Nov 15th, 2004 | By | Category: 16-2: Tribal College Research, Media Reviews

WHALE RIDER IMAGEWritten and directed by Niki Caro
Produced By Tim Sanders, John Barnett, Frank Hübner
South Pacific Pictures, 2002
Available at various prices from outlets around the world

Review by Roxanne Gould

Whale Rider is a beautiful story of love and destiny, which combines one of the oldest stories of the Maori, the Whale Rider migration story, with a fictional update in contemporary New Zealand.

The story unfolds into a struggle between a young girl and her grandfather, who can see only one way to keep the traditions of the Ngati Konohi people alive.

The film tells us that culture always has been dynamic. It raises the question of how often we discourage young people or others from participating in culture, ceremony, or language because our beliefs are frozen in time. We are reminded that culture and language can be transferred and lived in contemporary societies without compromising who we are as indigenous peoples.

Whale Rider, both the movie and the book written by Witi Ihimaera, are excellent tools for indigenous classrooms and communities to discuss culture and leadership.

Roxanne Gould (Grand Traverse/Little Traverse Bands Odawa/Ojibwe) is the director of the American Indian Learning Resource Center at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She is currently on leave to finish her doctoral research on the Maori educational movement in New Zealand. For more information, see www.southpacificpictures.com

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