The Whale Rider & Maori Culture

January 15th, 2004 by ClickSchooling Leave a reply »

Recommended Website:
The Maori People of New Zealand

List member, Catherine B., served as the inspiration for today’s ClickSchooling review. She wrote to tell me about a unit study she had cobbled together for her kids, after watching the popular movie, “The Whale Rider,” about a Maori girl who challenges her tribe’s tradition of choosing only male chiefs. The movie is currently available for rent through video stores. (The movie is rated PG-13 for brief language and a momentary drug reference. For details, visit a movie screening site such as

Catherine explained that her children became interested in the Maori people and that she found activities in a pdf about the He Taonga Maori. She said, “We also printed New Zealand based maps and flags — links are found on the same site. We ended up with a whole unit on New Zealand and Maori peoples.”

I thought that many of you may have read the book, “The Whale Rider,” upon which the movie is based, or you may have seen the movie or plan on watching it in the future. I have read that the movie is a good adaptation of the novel so it ties in literature as well as social studies and anthropology as the story includes actual traditions of Maori people. There is also a nature and conservation aspect to the film as the Maori culture is anchored in its relationship with the sea.

In a web search, I found today’s recommended site containing a history of the Maori along with their genealogy, myths and legends.

I also found the New Zealand Ministry of Education’s Classroom Lesson Plan for the book, The Whale Rider, that could easily be adapted for home use. It contains some interesting activities and many links to additional educational sites about tribal cultures of New Zealand.

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