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The Whale Rider [Paperback]

Witi Ihimaera
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 July 2003
A timeless story of the courage of one Maori girl who stood against the tide of tradition and enabled her tribe to reconnect with their ancestral life force. The film adaptation of "Whale Rider" brings the story to an international audience.

Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Robson Books Ltd; New edition edition (28 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861057040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861057044
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

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. His other fiction titles include The Dream Swimmer (sequel to the award-winning The Matriarch); Pounamu, Pounamu; Whanau; The New Net Goes Fishing; The Whale Rider; Dear Miss Mansfield; Kingfisher Come Home; and Nights In The Gardens of Spain. 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 M --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The Valde's Peninsula, Patagonia. Te Whiti Te Ra. the nursery, the cetacean crib. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
83 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one for all and all for one 15 May 2003
For those of us lucky to have seen the movie adaptation we will have been seduced by its magical allure and simple charm. If this incites us into reading the novel then we are doubly fortunate for we can see at first hand where all the magic comes from. The film works so well because at its heart pulsates a captivating story which is hugely indebted to the imaginative brilliance of the author, Witi Ihimaera. The Whale Rider revolves around a seemingly simple storyline yet it is testament to the novelist"s creative powers that although it is rooted within a specific Maori context on the East coast of the North island, New Zealand, the themes that the novel raises can apply to any similiar situation around the world without losing any of their power.
Koro Apirana is the respected "rangatira" (old noble leader) of the tribe, the chief who is the standard-bearer, the glue that keeps his family and society intact, whose role is to hand down the "mana" (prestige, honour) from generation to generation so that tradition can be kept alive. He is fixed in the "old ways" wanting to instill in the younger generation a respect for history, tradition and ancestry. Koro is Ihimarea"s mouthpiece for the older generation. His sense of right and morality is crudely interrupted when his grand-daughter, Kahu, is born who in turn is the voice through which the young speaks.
On Kahu"s arrival in his family, Koro"s world is thrown upside down. Expecting a boy, so that the chieftainship can be seamlessly passed down from eldest son to eldest son the birth of a girl poses a huge problem in the mind of the chief. This is a masculine world where masculine values are praised and valued such as courage, bravery, strength and resilience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful story of hope and promise 21 Jan 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Written in 1987, THE WHALE RIDER is a deceptively short book. Only 120 pages long, it's a richly layered story dealing with several major social issues: family relationships, gender discrimination, generational differences, racial prejudice, loss of the cultural identity of indigenous tribes, ecological conservationism and modern man's disconnection from his spiritual self.

Kahu is a young Maori girl who, from the moment of her birth, had a deep connection with her great-grandfather Koro Apirana, a powerful Maori Chieftan. Custodian of his people's indigenous culture, Koro searches desperately for his successor: a boy who, for the good of all his people, will value and understand the ancient Maori traditions as much as Koro does. Kahu's uncle Rawiri, who narrates most of the story, and her great-grandmother Nanni Flowers, see in Kahu's spirit that which Koro seeks: the soul of the future Chieftan who will lead the Maoris of Whangara into the 21st century. But Kahu is a girl and, in Maori tradition, only men can perform the sacred traditions that keep the Maori people blessed of their gods and their ancestors.

From the delightfully subversive feminist Nanni Flowers to good guy Rawiri who, along with a diverse group of people tried desperately to save 200 beached whales (one of the several scenes in the book which had me sobbing out loud), to the serene, compassionate and otherworldly Kahu, the story is filled with remarkable characters. These include the Old Whale, an ancient sea-creature that has survived for centuries to ensure that Kahu meets her destiny of ensuring that the sacred Maori traditions shall live on into the new century.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Book! 7 April 2010
Having watched the film I rushed to read this.
I was not disappointed.
It contains a riveting, magical and enlightning plot and language that is almost poetry.
The deep Moari culture is depicted with love and care.
A beautiful tale for children and adults alike!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars RA WILLS 8 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book - it is quirky, poetic, touching and unusual. It was interesting to read about the culture of a part of the world I know very little about. I also liked the themes of gender and family. I suspect that it may not be to everyone's taste (hence four stars and not five), but if you like a little bit of natural magic in your life expressed in a compelling read - this is for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Luminous! 30 Nov 2011
A timeless heartwarming tale about a maori girl. Luminous writing that captures the magical beauty of New Zealand, Maori culture and myths.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new leader 28 Sep 2011
By Kiwikat
Amazing story of how a young girl shows her family that she is ready to take on the training of a leader. She is part of a Maori tribe in New Zealand and has to cope with sceptical family members and tribal views on leadership. Made into a super film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read 21 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is just a wonderful book, and so beautifully written. I have read it three times, including out loud to my 13 year old. Maori is included in the text, which for me made it all the more evocative.

I came to the book because I saw the film first. Whilst the film is different in places, they complement. well.

I'd say this is a must read!
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