WHALE RIDER, dir. Niki Caro, 2002
Group age: children, teenagers, young adults and adults
Subject: Film and Literature
The topic of the lesson: Various approaches to the problem of gender, the preservation of tradition and female leadership in the community of Whangara.
After the lesson every student should be familiarized with:
- The plot of Whale Rider
- The main problems presented in the film
- The emotions of particular characters
- Various attitudes towards the problem of gender, feminism, traditions and changes in a small community of Whangara
Methods of Work:
Work in groups
Whale Rider, directed by Niki Caro, New Zealand 2003
Two lessons: the first lesson should take 100 minutes, because this is comparable to the length of the film (101 minutes). The second lesson should take 90 minutes.
The first lesson will include watching the film.
The plan of the second lesson:
(The entire task should take about 25 minutes): The teacher asks the students to write, on separate pieces of paper, the following sentence: ‘’The main problem in Whale Rider is …..’’ and finish this sentence according to what they think. Later on, the papers will be collected and read aloud in front of the whole class. Each answer will be discussed by the whole group.
Discussion in small groups (the discussion should take 15 minutes):
The students will be divided into groups of three or four and asked the following questions concerning Whale Rider:
- What are the characteristic traits of a good leader? What should a good leader in Pai’s community be like?
- What is the attitude of particular characters towards the preservation of traditions? Why is Koro so afraid of change? Why does he stubbornly follow the tradition of having a male leader?
- Are you satisfied with the ending of the film? Would you expect another kind of an ending? Why?
The whole-class discussion (15 minutes):
Do you admire Pai for her determination to prove that she is worthy to be a leader? Or do you think that she should have given up the very moment that Koro told her that ‘’this is not for you’’?
Summary and students’ reflections (25 minutes):
The teachers summarizes the discussion. He/she comments on the possible universality of each character in the film. The students are also asked to share their reflections concerning the problem of poverty in Whangara. They also should consider the difference in the representation of the traditional way of life in small villages in New Zealand and the western (modern) one.
The teacher asks students to formulate the conclusions concerning the plot of the film. They should explain what are characteristic features of a leader as presented in the film, how leadership is perceived by particular characters and whether tradition should be preserved at any cost.
Analyze the character of Pai: enumerate as many positive and negative traits of her personality as you can.
The same should be done with Koro, Flowers, Porourangi and Rawiri.
Write a short essay on one of the following topics (the essay is supposed to be written after watching the film, before the second lesson. It should contain three hundred words.):
Think about the reasons why Koro is so blind in his perception of things; why does he refuse to accept that his granddaughter may possibly be a whale rider? Why is the tradition so important to him? And is he justified in his cold behavior and harsh judgment towards his own son, Porourangi?
Do you agree with the statement that Pai’s actions resulted from a desperate need for love and a need for acceptance which she was never given?