Whale Rider
101 minute feature film

In a small New Zealand coastal village, Maori claim descent from Paikea, the Whale Rider. In every generation for over 1,000 years, a male heir born to the Chief succeeds to the title. The time is now. The Chief's eldest son, Porourangi, fathers twins - a boy and a girl. But the boy and his mother die in childbirth. The surviving girl is named Pai. Grief-stricken, her father leaves her to be raised by her grandparents. Koro, (the Chief) refuses to acknowledge Pai as the inheritor of the tradition and claims she is of no use to him. But her grandmother, Flowers, sees more than a broken line, she sees a child in desperate need of love. And Koro learns to love the child. When Pai's father, Porourangi, now a feted international artist, returns home after twelve years, Koro hopes everything is resolved and Porourangi will accept destiny and become his successor. But Porourangi has no intention of becoming Chief. He has moved away from his people both physically and emotionally. After a bitter argument with Koro he leaves, suggesting to Pai that she come with him. She starts the journey but quickly returns, claiming her grandfather needs her. Koro is blinded by prejudice and even Flowers cannot convince him that Pai is the natural heir. The old Chief is convinced that the tribe's misfortunes began at Pai's birth and calls for his people to bring their 12 year old boys to him for training. He is certain that through a gruelling process of teaching the ancient chants, tribal lore and warrior techniques, the future leader of their tribe will be revealed to him. Meanwhile, deep within the ocean, a massive herd of whales is responding, drawn towards Pai and their twin destinies. When the whales become stranded on the beach, Koro is sure this signals an apocalyptic end to his tribe. Until one person prepares to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the people. The Whale Rider.



Official Section: 2002 San Sebastian International Film Festival

Nominee: Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, Nominee: Outstanding Motion Picture, NAACP Image Awards

Nominee: Best Art Direction and Production Design, Golden Satellite Awards

Nominee: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Golden Satellite Awards

Nominee: Best Motion Picture Drama Golden Satellite Awards

Nominee: Best Supporting Actress, Screen Actors' Guild Awards

Winner: 2005 Wairoa Maori film Festival Audience Award

Winner: Best Foreign Film 2004 Independent Spirit Awards

Winner: 2004 German Video Award for Young People and Children

Winner: 2003 Rotterdam Film Festival, Canal + Audience Award

Winner: 2003 San Francisco Film Festival, VirginMega Audience Award for Best Narative Feature

Winner: 2003 Seatle International Film Festival; Golden Space Needle Award for Best Film and Best Director

Winner: 2003 Maui International Film Festival Audience Award Best Dramatic Feature

Winner: 2003 Lake Placid Film Festival Audience Award

Winner 2003 Sao Paulo International Film Festival Jury Prize

Winner: 2003 Humanitas Award, Sundance Feature Film Category

Winner: APRA-AGSC 2003 Screen Music Awards, Best Original Song Comosed for Feature Film, Telemovie, TV Series or Mini-Series

Winner: 2003 Environmental Media Awards, Best Feature Film

Winner: 2003 British Academy Children's Film and Television Awards, Best Feature Film

Winner: 2003 New Zealand Film Awards, Best Screenplay, Best Original Music, Best Costume Design

Winner: 2003 New Zealand Film Awards; Best Supporting Actress, Best Juvenile Performer

Winner: 2003 New Zealand Film Awards, Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor

Winner: Best Actress 2003 Washington DC Area Film Critics

Winner: Best Breakthrough Filmmaker; Best Breakthrough Performance 2003 Online Film Critics' Society (USA)

Winner Best Breakthrough Performance 2003; South Eastern Film Critics Association (USA)

Winner: Best Young Actress; Best Family Film 2004 Critics Choice Awards, American Broadcast Critics Association

Winner: Most Promising Performer 2004 Chicago Film Critics Awards

Nominee - Best Actress In A Leading Role 2004, 76th Annual Academy Awards

Winner 2002 Toronto International Film Festival AGF People's Choice Award

Winner 2003 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Audience Award


Tim Sanders, John Barnett and Frank Hubner

Niki Caro

Executive Producer(s):
Bill Gavin & Linda Goldstein-Knowlton

Niki Caro

Niki Caro
Executive Producer
Bill Gavin
Executive Producer
Linda Goldstein-Knowlton
Frank Hubner
John Barnett
Tim Sanders
Niki Caro
Production Year