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Home / For Educators / Films and Lesson Plans / Whale Rider – Maori Culture


The Film – Whale Rider

Whale Rider reveals the struggle between Koro, the old chief of a Maori (New Zealand) 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.

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The Curriculum Guide – Available FREE

This interdisciplinary curriculum guide for educators based on the film ‘Whale Rider’ includes 10 lesson plans that cover math, science, language arts, social studies, media literacy, visual arts and specialty areas. It is available in both print and electronic versions.

Topics Covered

  1. Social Studies | Who are the Maori
  2. Media Literacy | Viewing Whale Rider
  3. Social Studies | The World Outside,The Spirit Within
  4. Language Arts / Visual Literacy | Maori Roles and Relationships
  5. Film Specific Cross Cultural Understanding | Insights Into Maori Culture
  6. General Cross-Cultural Understanding | Culture and Gender
  7. Media Literacy | Special Effects and Music
  8. Science | Echolocation
  9. Mathematics | Counting the Uncountable
  10. Visual Arts | Markings of the Maori

Additional themes explored through the guide are:

  • Girls Empowerment / Gender Roles
  • Leadership and Conflict Resolution
  • Culture Change through Generations
  • Coming of Age / Responsibility
  • Belief System / Animism
  • Maori Traditions and Culture

Authors: Bengt Johnson, Pat McCarthy, Eileen Mattingly, Deenah Dunkelman Molllin, Sarah Rainsberger, Dede Sinclair, Brad Woodward and Laura Zlatos.

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