25 in 25

Whale Rider

Whale Rider

July 2016

Whale Rider is a Maori family drama film directed by Niki Caro, based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera. The film stars Keisha Castle-Hughes as Kahu Paikea Apirana (Pai), an 11-year-old girl in a patriarchal Maori tribe. Pai believes she is destined to be the new chief, but her grandfather Koro believes that this is a role reserved for males only.

On the east coast of Aotearoa, the Whangara people’s presence there dates back a thousand years or more to a single ancestor, Paikea, who escaped death when his canoe capsized by riding to shore on the back of a whale. From then on, Whangara chiefs, always the first-born, always male, have been considered Paikea's direct descendants. Pai loves Koro more than anyone in the world, but she must fight him and a thousand years of tradition to fulfill her destiny.

Pacific Islanders in Communications acquired Whale Rider in 2005 for a national PBS broadcast. It was reported to be the highest watched film on PBS Sunday night at the time. The airing brought more recognition and respect to Pacific Islander films.

Icon-tv On Air - Check Your Local Listings