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Home / Films / Whale Rider – Maori Culture



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Whale Rider - Curriculum Guide

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Whale Rider reveals the struggle between Koro, the old chief of the community, and Pai, his young and determined granddaughter. The stern and very traditional grandfather tirelessly searches for his successor among the young boys of his village. Although none of the boys live up to his expectations, Koro refuses to accept that a girl, his own granddaughter, may in fact be the most capable new leader. Displaying unconditional love, courage, and wisdom far beyond her years, strong-willed Pai must gain his approval in order to fulfill her destiny.


This story is an empowering example for girls around the world and has certainly contributed to Whale Rider’s overwhelming popularity. This interdisciplinary curriculum guide for educators includes 10 lesson plans that cover math, science, language arts, social studies, media literacy, and visual arts.


  • Lesson 1: Who are the Maori (Social Studies)
  • Lesson 2: Viewing Whale Rider (Media Literacy)
  • Lesson 3: The World Outside,The Spirit Within (Social Studies)
  • Lesson 4: Maori Roles and Relationships (Language Arts / Visual Literacy)
  • Lesson 5: Insights Into Maori Culture (Film Specific/Cross-Cultural Understanding)
  • Lesson 6: Culture and Gender (Cross-Cultural Understanding)
  • Lesson 7: Special Effects and Music (Media Literacy)
  • Lesson 8: Echolocation (Science)
  • Lesson 9: Counting the Uncountable (Mathematics)
  • Lesson 10: Markings of the Maori (Visual Arts)
Authors: Bengt Johnson, Pat McCarthy, Eileen Mattingly, Deenah Dunkelman Molllin, Sarah Rainsberger, Dede Sinclair, Brad Woodward and Laura Zlatos.

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