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Whale Rider

Whale Rider

Date: Nov 12 2003


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

The new movie Whale Rider centers on an ancient legend of the Maori (indigenous people of New Zealand), who believe their ancestry dates back a thousand years to a warrior named Paikea. Legend has it Paikea escaped death after his canoe capsized by riding to shore on the back of a whale, and since then his male heirs have each assumed the responsibilities as Maori chief. That is, until now.
Set in the present, Whale Rider tells the story of Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), a feisty 12-year-old girl who lives in a fishing village on east coast of New Zealand. She stays with her stern but loving grandfather Koro (Rawiri Paratene), who is a direct descendent of Paikea, and her grandmother, the kindly Nanny Flowers (Vicky Haughton).
Koro is trying to find the next Maori chief, but he refuses to see Pai as an option, because she isn’t a male. But Pai isn’t your ordinary adolescent girl; she embodies many of the qualities of a great Maori warrior – courage, determination, wisdom and an irrepressible spirit.
Listen in to Miguel’s recent conversation with Beth to learn more about Whale Rider.


1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.





Miguel:  Hey Beth, did you see Whale Rider?

Beth:  No, but I really wanted to. I remember when it first came out, there was a lot of hype about it.

Miguel:  Yeah, I just saw it a couple days ago and it’s really one of the best movies I think I’ve ever seen.

Beth:  Really? What did you like about it?

Miguel:  Well, it’s a story about this young girl who is basically trying to buck tradition and, um, help her people – she’s a part of the Maori tribe in New Zealand. And she’s just an extraordinary character. She’s only 11 years old, but she’s just really powerful. So, it’s just a lot different than a Western, American film. It sort of has a different feeling.

Beth:  This is probably a silly question, but what do the whales have to do with it?

Miguel:  Well, that’s something you kinda have to wait and see, but it has to do with the Maori history and heritage and ancestry, so… But I don’t want to give away any of the details about that. So, you’ll just have to check it out and see for yourself.



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I saw Whale Rider a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely loved it. It was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. Keisha Castle-Hughes is absolutely incredible – and she’s only 11 years old! She gives one of the best performances of the year.
If you only see one movie this year, I think it should be Whale Rider. It will make you cry with sadness and then with pure joy. I promise you’ll enjoy every minute of it!
See you at the movies!


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