Whale Rider

Out Now On-Demand

On the east coast of New Zealand, the Whangara people believe their presence there dates back a thousand years or more to a single ancestor, Paikea, who escaped death when his canoe capsized by riding to shore on the back of a whale. From then on, Whangara chiefs, always the first-born, always male, have been considered Paikea's direct descendants.

Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), an 11-year-old girl in a patriarchal New Zealand tribe, believes she is destined to be the new chief. But her grandfather Koro is bound by tradition to pick a male leader, and is still upset that her twin brother died along with her mother in childbirth. Pai loves Koro more than anyone in the world, but she must fight him and a thousand years of tradition to fulfill her destiny.



Winner of 9 awards, New Zealand Film & TV Awards 2003. Audience Award winner at Sundance Film Festival 2003.

Directed by

Written by

  • Niki Caro
  • (based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera)




Rating: PG ..

New Zealand

Official Site

must see movie

beautiful scence from nz, great movie. must see


Its a long time since I saw this movie but it must have had a magic since I still remember quite a bit of it - a lot more than I can say about many movies. This is a special movie for Kiwi audiences. It touches our hearts and I doubt there would be many who would not enjoy it.

A beautiful NZ film


A beautiful NZ film

I thought Whale Rider was gorgeous. It showed me a side of my country I'd not seen before. Gently done, naturally acted, slow burning and really got under my skin.