The Whale Rider – Witi Ihimaera


Chosen by Suzy

Kahu Apirana is a 12-year-old Maori girl who wants to become the chief of her tribe, but must battle her great-grandfather to make herself heard.

♥ “Maori chief Koro Apirana is angered when his grandson’s wife gives birth to a daughter. Leadership of the iwi is handed down to the eldest son of each generation and her birth has broken the tradition.

“As she gets older the girl, Kahu, demonstrates the talents and ability of the ancient Whale Rider for whom she was named but Koro constantly rejects her for being female.

“It’s this craving for her great-grandfather’s love that provides Kahu’s motivation to prove to herself, and the relationship between the two is at the heart of the story. Kahu seems to understand why her great-grandfather excludes her from tribal rituals and from his love, even though she disagrees with him.

“A book which has become a classic in New Zealand literature.”

Our Koro was like an old whale stranded in an alien present, but that was how it was supposed to be, because he also had his role in the pattern of things, in the tides of the future.

♥ “If you are a New Zealander and you haven’t read this book then for the love of God at least go and see the bloody movie!  But preferably read the book. Yes it’s essentially a children’s book but I was as happily enthralled in this as I have been in any novel written for adults. HURRY UP! READ IT!!” – Suzy

♥ “Usually I read the book and don’t even watch the movie, but did enjoy them in reverse in this instance. And I think it ruined the book for me a little as I couldn’t help but picture the movie as I read. Nonetheless, this is an excellent book that every New Zealander and every child trying to find their place in the world should read.” – Rachel


Published 1987
122 pages

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