I feel very fortunate to have been exposed to Whale Rider. I was hooked from the very beginning when Paikea, the main character, was born. As the movie progressed, my admiration for Paikea only grew. I also liked learning about the Maori’s culture and traditions throughout the movie. Paikea went against some of these traditions to prove herself a worthy leader. Although her grandfather, Koro, disagreed with her becoming a leader because she was a girl, there is much love and warmth within her family.
One part that I really liked was when Uncle Rawiri was teaching Paikea how to use the Taiaha, a traditional stick used as a weapon. It was humorous because Uncle Rawiri made funny faces and was very into what he was doing. It was also touching because he was willing to help Paikea and didn’t give in to Koro’s belief that girls shouldn’t learn the Maori ways.
One part that made me emotional was when Paikea invited Koro to be her guest of honor at her concert. I was proud of her that she won the speech contest. I was rooting for her and hoping Koro would show up. I doubted he would based on his stubbornness, yet there was a glimmer of hope as it showed him getting dressed and ready to go. However, as she began her speech and tears began to well in her eyes, I began to empathize with her. She has such a deep respect for her grandfather, but she never let Koro get in the way of proving herself.
Towards the end of the movie, I anticipated her becoming a leader. However, I became hesitant when she was mentioning that she wasn’t afraid of dying as she rode the whale into the ocean. When she ended up in the hospital, and Koro came to visit, I knew from that moment that she was going to be ok. She is such a strong, young child and even though she is just a character in a movie, it is still an inspiration to watch her achieve her dream.
Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. It is one that I wouldn’t mind watching again. I wish some of the Maori language was subtitled because I was interested in knowing what they were saying. However, I don’t think it detracted from the overall story. Paikea is a character that I think many people, especially females, can learn from. She shows that one can be strong, independent and not let anything get in the way of their dreams no matter how young one is. I would definitely recommend this movie!