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The film's plot employs the story of Paikea Apirana (" Pai" ) [In the book, her name can be Kahu, brief for Kahutia Te Rangi]. The leader ought to be the first-born son – an immediate patrilineal descendant of Paikea, aka Kahutia Te Rangi in the book, the Whale Driver – this individual who rode on top of a whale from Hawaiki. However , Pai can be female and technically cannot inherit the leadership.

Whilst he really does later kind an loving bond together with his granddaughter, transporting her to school every day in the bicycle, he also criticizes her and blames her for conflicts happening in the tribe. By one point Paikea makes a decision to keep with her father because her grandpa is mistreating her. However she detects that she cannot carry to leave the sea while the whale seems to be calling her backside, she tells her dad to turn the auto back and returns home. Pai's father refuses to assume traditional leadership; instead he ways to Germany to pursue a profession as an artist. Pai herself is usually interested in the leadership, learning traditional tunes and dances, but is given little confidence by her grandfather. Pai feels that she could become the leader, though there's no precedent for a woman to do so, which is determined to succeed.

Koro potential clients a cultural school pertaining to the community boys, hoping to find a new head. He instructs the young boys to use a taiaha (fighting stick). This is usually reserved for guys. However , Nanny tells Pai that her second boy, Pai's uncle, had won a taiaha competition in his youngsters while having been still slim, so Pai secretly understands from him. She also secretly comes after Koro's lessons. One of the students, Hemi, is also sympathetic toward her, although Koro is usually enraged if he finds out, particularly if she benefits her taiaha fight against Hemi. Koro's relationship with Pai erodes further when ever non-e from the boys do well at the traditional task of recovering the rei puta (whale tooth) that this individual threw in to the ocean – this objective would show one of them worthy of becoming head. With the loss of...

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