His name was also Paikea and I am his most recent descendant… And he came on the back of a whale—a man to lead... Even after the boys fail to achieving the whale tooth necklace, the chief’s emblem of leadership.
But I was not the leader my grandfather was expecting. Koro entirely gives up on his hope of finding the successor. Pai needs to "go home", in a spiritual "home", but she is powerless against her grandfather.
Maorians myth is of Paikea, an ancestor of the Maori community who rode into Aotearoa on the back of a whale.
According to the traditional myth, when the ancient ancestor Paikea was lost at sea and fell from his canoe, he rode on a whale which brought him to a coastal area of New Zealand.
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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.
Until one person prepares to make the sacrifice to save the people…the Whale Rider.
A special attention should be paid to a the concept of shadows in the story, as it has an important meaning.
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.