‘The Whale Rider’: Witi Ihimaera

Witi Ihimaera is a Māori novelist and short story writer best known for his novel and acclaimed feature film, ‘The Whale Rider’.









I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at the Banff Centre on the weekend and I was immediately struck by his sincerity, intelligence and depth.

He spoke of the assumptions that we make in every day language – in the stories we tell – even in the nursery rhymes that we take for granted as children, and how important it is that we question everything and make them our own stories.

Witi explained the myth of Paikea (the male whale rider of legend) and why he re-gendered it and incorporated it into a modern setting.









From my point of view, I was relieved and empowered to see ‘The Whale Rider’ achieve success, not only because it was a great film, but because it represented Māori as something other than the victims and gangsters of ‘Once were Warriors’.

His latest film, ‘White Lies’ is playing major cinemas in New Zealand right now and I look forward to it’s release in North America.


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