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Pai feels, that she can become the leader, but it is impossible for a woman to do so, and she is given little encouragement by her grandfather.
Paikea: “My name is Paikea Apirana, and I come from a long line of chiefs stretching all the way back to the whale rider.
The old Chief is convinced that the tribe’s misfortunes began at Pai’s birth, and calls for his people to bring their firstborn boys to him for training.
He is certain that through a process of teaching the ancient chants, tribal lore and warrior techniques, the future leader of their tribe will be revealed to him.
He rode the whale and founded the Maori people, and from that day the tradition exists: an eldest son is the Chief of the tribe and the leader.
Once deep within the ocean, a herd of whales was responding, and when the whales began stranding on the beach, this seemed to be a signal of an apocalyptic end to his tribe.
I’m not a prophet, but I know that our people will keep going forward, all together, with all of their strength.” Even when Pai becomes rather proficient in taiana fighting, this still does not prove to Koro that she is good enough to be a leader of the people.
Koro, who is the Chief of the Maori tribe, is the other important character of the film.
The symbolism from the beginning foreshadows Pai’s future as a leader: a close up of the crying baby’s green eye mirrors the close up of a whale’s eye.
So the focus of the eye humanizes the whale and connects the young girl to the animal.