Web teaser: Whale Rider

In 2003, the novel Whale Rider, written by the Maori author Witi Ihimaera, was adapted to the screen. Below you will find tasks for two key scenes in the film, as well as for the film as a whole.


Scene 1 on DVD

  1. Where are we in the opening scene?
  2. What is the dominant colour of the first frames?
  3. What do you see?
  4. What does the narrator say?
  5. How would you describe the lighting of these first scenes?
  6. Who do we meet in the hospital scenes? What is going on?
  7. Why do you think the director alternates between underwater scenes and the hospital?
  8. What is the effect of clipping scenes in this manner?
  9. Comment on the use of music in scene 1. When do we hear it? When does it stop? How would you describe this music?
  10. Why do you think the director has chosen to begin his film in this manner?


Scene 17 on DVD

  1. How does this scene open? Where does the action take place? What has happened?
  2. Play the entire scene from the close-up of Paikea until the phone call. Describe what happens in these scenes.
  3. What does the camera focus most on?
  4. Are there close-ups of any of the characters? Who?
  5. Describe the music in these scenes.
  6. What is the purpose of the underwater scenes? What do you see? Do they remind you of the opening scenes of the film?
  7. What are the dominant colours of these scenes?


Working with the rest of the film

  1. Give examples of how the young girl shows that she is the rightful heir and true leader of the Maori people in the film.
  2. What do you learn about Maori culture in this film?
  3. What do you think are possible themes of the story?
  4. How many characters do you meet in the film who are not Maori? Does this surprise you?
  5. The film was shot entirely in Whangara on the eastern coast of the North Island of New Zealand. See if you can locate this on a map of New Zealand. Then see if you can find out where the majority of the Maori live. Do most Maori live on the North Island or the South Island?