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The Whale Rider

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  3,432 ratings  ·  409 reviews
From the time of her birth, Kahu is destined to become the leader of her tribe in the East Coast village of Whangara. But her grandfather, Koro Apirana, is caught up with the problems facing the tribe. He refuses to accept that a girl could take over from him as chief. Then a pod of whales beach themselves at Whangara. Kahu has to act if she is to save them and her people. ...more
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Published 2005 (first published May 1st 2003)
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Tamsin B-g I don't think so. It's not really supposed to be a children's' book. I read it for school when I was 12 and I think that's a better age to be…moreI don't think so. It's not really supposed to be a children's' book. I read it for school when I was 12 and I think that's a better age to be introduced to it. It's a little bit like To Kill a Mockingbird in that respect - the protagonist is very young, but the themes of the story make more sense to a slightly older reader.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chrissie
A gem that glistens. Beautiful. A contemporary rewriting of an ancient Maori legend. Its messages speak of the strength of women, but even more importantly of the oneness of the past and present, the rational and the irrational, what we understand and don’t understand and of all life on earth. This is young adult literature for adults.

The audiobook narration by Kiwi Jay Laga’aia was well done. There is music throughout the recording, but it is the same snippet repeated over and over again. When
...more
Mmars
Oh boy howdy I put on my ice skates and slid my way through this one. It didn't take long for me to realize that:
1) I am a jaded YA reader from years in the biz
2) there's much better out there
3) I would never have read this if not for my book club.

I really wanted to like it too. Other than the excellent The Bone People I have read little and know virtually nothing about the Maori people. Add a girl power element and mythology involving whales and I'm enticed.

Unfortunately, my shackles are st
...more
jess
This book alternated between ancient mythology and the modern struggle of a young girl trying to take her place in society. The mythology portions tell the story of the whale rider, who was a long-ago ancestor who rode a giant ancient whale to the land where the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand live. The young girl is Eight-year-old Kahu. Kahu is the only great-grandchild of an aging chief who is desperate for a male heir to take his title.

So, the parts about the mythology and the internal
...more
Zaid
It was an interesting book it showed how the females couldn’t gain traditional leadership of the Maori people but Kahu (short for Kahutia Te Rangi], an eight year old Maori girl who was a member of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, kept trying to learn the ways of a leader and wants to become the chief of the tribe. Her grandfather Koro believes that this is a role reserved for males only.

My favourite character in this book is the main lead, Kahu. Even though she is a young eight year o
...more
Anna [Floanne]
4.5 stars
“La Balena e la Bambina” è una piccola ma splendida fiaba Maori in cui mi sono imbattuta per puro caso la scorsa settimana mentre curiosavo tra gli scaffali della bibloteca locale. Non avevo nemmeno mai sentito parlare del ben più celebre film che ne è stato tratto nel 2002 e che ha riscosso notevole successo al botteghino: vincitore del Toronto International Film Festival e del più noto Sundance Film Festival, ha fruttato alla sua interprete principale, la giovanissima Keisha Castle-H
...more
Judy Croome
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,
...more
Lindsay
Such a beautiful, challenging book. Witi Ihimaera weaves a lush story, combining land and sea, past and present. The tragic scenes were incredibly heartbreaking--between Kahu's one-sided relationship with Koro and when the whales beach themselves, I about started crying at my work desk. And the triumphs were equally brilliant--as fluid and swift as the feeling evoked as the whales sliced through the sea.

I would like to wonder out loud though as to the general designation of this book as children
...more
george
Kahu is the eldest great-grandchild of Kori, the chief of the Maori in Whangara, New Zealand. Unfortunately, Kahu is a girl and therefore Kori has no interest in her because he is only focused on finding the next leader of the tribe. Kahu showers Kori with love and admiration despite the fact that he continuously dismisses her and he continues his classes for the the males in the tribe and searches for the "one."

This is a heartwarming story of a detrmined little girl and her quest to find her w
...more
Elizabeth A
I saw the movie based on this novella when it came out years ago, and remember really liking it. I listened to the audiobook wonderfully narrated by Jay Laga'aia, and would recommend the audio as there are Maori phrases and music that add to the enjoyment of this story.

I love creation stories, and this one retells an ancient Maori legend juxtaposed with the present day lives of the Maori. Kahu is a young Maori girl who has the misfortune of not being born the boy her Great-Grandfather desperate
...more
Bron
My son is reading this for English, so I decided to read it as well. This book is a sweet story about a maori chieftain's family, of which one ancestor had arrived in New Zealand riding a whale. Unfortunately for the chieftain, his first-in line grandchild is born a girl, which is bad because it should be a boy to lead the tribe. The chieftain spends the next 8 years refusing to believe his grand-daughter is good for his tribe, and in doing so pushes her away and does not love her. Fortunately f ...more
Chana
This is a short, sensitive book about a Maori family and the passing of the tribal mantle of leadership. When a girl is born, the first grandchild of that generation, her great-grandfather is terribly disappointed. He doesn't accept the possibility that she could be the one to take over leadership. She loves her great-grandfather so much, and she was born with the gifts that are the tribal heritage such as being able to talk to the whales. It takes tragedy and near loss to open his eyes.
I am wi
...more
Fiona
A friend recommended this to me a few years ago and so finally I pulled it off my bookshelf and read it and after such a long time of being embedded in bricks, or books that I wasn’t particularly taken with, The Whale Rider felt like a breath of fresh sea air.

Ihimaera chose to tell the story not from Kahu’s point of view, but from her Uncle Rawiri instead, giving the story the feel of a modern day legend. Kahu herself became more of a secondary character.

In a modern day world, culture becomes er
...more
Michele Velthuizen
Interest level: 7th +
Reading level: medium
Genre: whales, Maori, myths, mythology, fantasy, New Zealand

Witi Ihimaera, the author of what has become a classic, was the first Maori writer to publish a novel in New Zealand. In 2003 it was turned into a movie.

In ancient times there was a whale rider called Kahutia Te Rangi, but ever since the whale rider turned away from the sea to join those on land, the whales have been seeking a new rider. Kahu, the great gandchild of a tribal elder seems to have
...more
Jackie
It’s very unusual for me to read a book that I’ve already seen the movie for. However, it’s been some time since I’ve seen The Whale Rider movie and this audio was a freebie from the YA Sync Summer Program so I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did. It was a whale of a tale!!! (Sorry couldn’t resist : P).

This audio was sheer perfection! The narration, the music, the story…the whole thing was just lovely and just as good (at times even better) than the movie. The narrator and music really
...more
Brenna Hobson
1. I decided to read this book because it was given to me by a relative a while ago, and it is the only book written by a New Zealander that I own.

2. This book fits the categories: book written by a New Zealander, book with a female main character, a book that teaches me about a culture other than my own, a book recommended to me by a member of my family and a book which has been made into a film.

3. The character that I found the most interesting is Kahu, because of her determination to win over
...more
Mila Latu
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ana
I decided to read the book Whale Rider as I had looked up the books written by a New Zealander and it had came up with this novel. The cover looked intriguing as it has a picture of a beautiful Māori girl.This book ticks off the category "A book written by a New Zealander".

An interesting character in this story would be Kahu- who is 8 years old and also because she was so determined to win over her great-grandfather who disliked her because of her gender. Even though her Koro was mean and cruel
...more
Reshma
The Whale Rider is about a Maori 18 year old girl called Kahu, she is a member of a Maori tribe of Whangara. Kahu tries to fulfill her dream that her grandfather doesn't seem to recognize, along the way she finds she is gifted and can communicate with whales.

This book covers the category of a book written by a New Zealander.

My favorite quote in this book is "When she was born, that's when things went wrong for us". I liked this quote because it was upsetting because they felt like things went wr
...more
Peggy
Very fast read (also very short at approximately 150 pages) and I read it in one day. I really enjoyed the present-day story of the book, and I thought Kahu was such a wonderful and sweet girl. I found the Maori legends very interesting and loved reading those! I liked that the author often used Maori words, but as I don't know any Maori except for Kia Ora and Aotearoa I had to look them up in the glossary. Having to do that interrupted the reading and kept me from being able to read the story s ...more
Darcy
A moving story, but not what I expected. I thought this would be a cute story. It's short and shelved in the Juvenile Fiction section of the library, so naturally I assumed it would be a light read. This was not the case.
I can't imagine very many children enjoying this story. Ihimaera's prose is ripe and overflowing with lyricism that seems like it would be a bit above most children- "The mountains were like a stairway to heaven, and the lush green rainforest was a rippling cloak of many colors.
...more
Alisha
Having seen the movie, I haven't been exactly looking forward to reading this book. I liked it the first time I saw it, but then I worked at a summer camp for 3 years with a bunch of Kiwis... and I LOVED them, but they LOVED this movie and watched it everytime it was a rainy day... well, MOST summers were pretty rainy, so if you're catching my drift, I've seen the movie probably about 50 times. LITERALLY.

HOWEVER, I don't know why I didn't trust in my usual instinct of books ALWAYS trumping their
...more
Cielo
I really liked this book alot. It wasn't too long, it was easy to read, and the story was great. Kahu is dealing with all this frustration because her grandfather never fully appreciates her since she is a girl, and her grandfather was expecting the birth of the next great whale rider, who has to be a boy. The story was well paced, and liked it a lot overall.
James Hellriegel
this book was quite an interesting book it had its funny parts but then it also had its boring parts. I found it interesting the way the book had been written using te reo integrated with english. This book reminded me of summer and all the good weather we get i could imagine myself at the beach in the surf swimming in the waves. I recommend this book to people because it is something different and out of the ordinary. It uses the maori culture to tell a story which everyone can relate to. My fa ...more
Eric
I read this one for my 7th grade class. It is actually the third or fourth time I've read it for one reason or another, and I cry every time I get to Kahu diving for the stone. This book is a true pleasure. Entirely accessible, culturally rich, a heartwarming social commentary, and enough magic to please most readers. Definitely worth sitting down for a little while and giving a chance. Maybe it's not for everyone, but, in my opinion, it is quite the epic little story. (Also, I see a good deal o ...more
Darth Fierce
I much prefer the cover pictured below but there's no English edition as far as I'm aware.
  description
Robert
A hauntingly beautiful tale, rooted in Maori myth and legend.
Witi Ihimaera, a Maori writer himself, illustrates how modern culture could influence Maori traditions when the future is unclear.
A leader shall be born, to lead his tribe to prosperity. A leader, whose skills are unmatched. A leader, who shall unite his people, to lead them to their new home. He shall be the one whose words will be heard by the great whale. And the leader comes, in a person most unexpected, changing customs and tradit
...more
NickiUK
This is amazing - don't be put off by anyone telling you it's YA or fantasy - it isn't in my opinion. It has a child main character but I think it's YA in the same way that To Kill a Mockingbird is 'YA'. It's the sort of book you're made to read in school but you appreciate more as you get older. It's based on Maori legends, so not a 'fantasy' book but an insight into the richness that is Maori history. It also touches on the discrimination that exists between genders and races. You can learn a ...more
Awilk -never sleeps-
This book was one my son had to read for school. He complained the whole way through, and I kept telling him it couldn't be that bad. In the end, I picked it up to see why he was carrying on. Surprisingly, I agreed with him whole-heartedly. With all the wonderful books out there, I don't understand why this book was chosen.
Lucky I am a dedicated reader, or this repetitive novel may have done to me what it did to my son. Sadly, he hasn't read again for pleasure, only things he has to for school.
...more
Dilraj
i didn't like the whale rider because it was all bit to confusing and hard to read it
Ginger Taylor
When I started reading this book I was super confused with what was happening. As I read more and more, I was able to start making connections with certain people and spirits that were described within the book. From the very beginning I was able to see the conflict the grandfather had with himself as well as others when he discovered he was going to be a grandfather over a only child baby girl. As tradition has it, there is only to be a male who leadership will be passed down to. It has been a ...more
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Is the book as good as the movie 3 20 May 20, 2014 12:57PM  
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Witi Ihimaera is a novelist and short story writer from New Zealand, perhaps the best-known Māori writer today. He is internationally famous for The Whale Rider.

Ihimaera in New Zealand and is of Māori descent and Anglo-Saxon descent through his father, Tom. He attended Church College of New Zealand in Temple View, Hamilton, New Zealand. He was the first Māori writer to publish both a novel and a b
...more
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“He loved them deeply, but sometimes love becomes a power game between the ambitions that parents have for their children and the ambitions that children have for themselves.” 3 likes
“Der Mensch mag sein moko (Tätowierung) in die Erde tätowieren, aber sobald seine Wachsamkeit nachlässt, nimmt die Natur sich zurück, was er sich angeeignet hatte, um seine Eitelkeit zu befriedigen.” 3 likes
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