The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

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Eight-year-old Kahu craves her great-grandfather's love and attention. But he is focused on his duties as chief of a Maori tribe in Whangara, on the East Coast of New Zealand - a tribe that claims descent from the legendary 'whale rider'. In every generation since the whale rider, a male has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir - there's only kahu. She should be the next in line for the title, but her great-grandfather is blinded by tradition and sees no use for a girl.

Kahu will not be ignored. And in her struggle she has a unique ally: the whale rider himself, from whom she has inherited the ability to communicate with whales. Once that sacred gift is revealed, Kahu may be able to re-establish her people's ancestral connections, earn her great-grandfather's attention - and lead her tribe to a bold new future. From multi-award-winning author, Witi Ihimaera.

About Witi Ihimaera

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Three-time winner of the Wattie/Montana Book of the Year award, Katherine Mansfield fellow, and playwright, Witi Ihimaera is one of New Zealand's most accomplished writers. Bulibasha, King of the Gypsies won the Montana Book of the Year award in 1995. Ihimaera won the Wattie Book of the Year Award in 1974 and 1986 for Tangi and The Matriarch respectively. Ihimaera has also edited a major five-volume collection of new Maori fiction and non-fiction, called the Te Aro Marama series. In 1993 Witi Ihimaera spent a year in France on the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship. It is Witi Ihimaera's writing that also opened the door to his political career. When the then US Ambassador to New Zealand read a copy of Pounamu, Pounamu he passed it on to the Prime Minister of New Zealand at the time, Norman Kirk. At Mr Kirk's request, Witi Ihimaera joined the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and served as a diplomat in Canberra, New York and Washington. He is a respected commentator on Maori, Pacific and indigenous peoples' affairs, and has been instrumental in ensuring Maori art and literature is supported.
Published November 27, 2008 by NZ ePenguin. 170 pages
Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Travel, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Whale Rider

Publishers Weekly

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First published in 1987 in New Zealand—the author's homeland as well as the story's setting—this circuitous novel inspired a film of the same title, which is scheduled for U.S

May 19 2003 | Read Full Review of The Whale Rider

Publishers Weekly

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After the narrative shifts to contemporary times, readers learn that this "whale rider" was Kahutia Te Rangi, founder of the Maori tribe whose chief is now Koro Apirana, grandfather of the 24-year-old narrator, Rawiri.

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Chicago Tribune

From the start Pai senses that she is her people's destined leader, but Koro is too tradition-bound to see her as anything more than a girl.

Jun 19 2003 | Read Full Review of The Whale Rider

Project MUSE

The film begins with simultaneous birth and death: the death of a woman and her son, and the birth of a daughter Paikea, who narrates: "There was no gladness when I was born—everyone was waiting for the firstborn boy to lead, but he died, andI didn't."

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None of his lazy male charges shows great promise, while the rift between grandfather and grandchild widens as she instructs herself in these customs on the sly -- a breach Paka considers blasphemous, ignoring all signs that Pai herself is a natural (perhaps even supernatural) leader.

Sep 18 2002 | Read Full Review of The Whale Rider

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