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The Whale Rider
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About the Author

Three-time winner of the Wattie/Montana Book of the Year award, Katherine Mansfield fellow, and playwright, Witi Ihimaera is one of New Zealand's most accomplished writers.Bulibasha, King of the Gypsies won the Montana Book of the Year award in 1995. Ihimaera won the Wattie Book of the Year Award in 1974 and 1986 for Tangi and The Matriarch respectively. His other fiction titles include The Dream Swimmer (sequel to the award-winning The Matriarch); Pounamu, Pounamu; Whanau; The New Net Goes Fishing; The Whale Rider; Dear Miss Mansfield; Kingfisher Come Home; and Nights In The Gardens of Spain.Ihimaera has also edited a major five-volume collection of new Maori fiction and non-fiction, called the Te Aro Marama series. In 1993 Witi Ihimaera spent a year in France on the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship.It is Witi Ihimaera's writing that also opened the door to his political career. When the then US Ambassador to New Zealand read a copy of Pounamu, Pounamu he passed it on to the Prime Minister of New Zealand at the time, Norman Kirk. At Mr Kirk's request, Witi Ihimaera joined the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and served as a diplomat in Canberra, New York and Washington. He is a respected commentator on Maori, Pacific and indigenous peoples' affairs, and has been instrumental in ensuring Maori art and literature is supported.

Reviews

Gr 5-8-A poetic blend of reality and myth provides a riveting tale of adventure and passion. An ancient whale ridden by a mystical man rises from the sea, the rider throwing spears that blossom like seeds into gifts of nature. One last spear "-flew across a thousand years. When it hit the earth, it did not change but waited for another hundred and fifty years to pass until it was needed." It sprouts when Kahu, a girl child, is born to the eldest grandson of the chief of the Maori in Whangara, New Zealand. Koro Apirana is disgusted; he needs a male child to continue the line of descent in the tribe. The years that follow further harden his heart toward his great-granddaughter in spite of the bottomless love and respect she showers upon him. The child's great-grandmother, the irreverent Nanny Flowers, proves to be the strength of this family; she nurtures the girl whom she knows holds the key to the future. The complex mixture of archetypal characters and cultural troubles make this novel appropriate for mature readers. Overt and sometimes violent racism is encountered and the tragic and bloody death of hundreds of beached whales may disturb younger readers. This story, originally published in New Zealand in 1987, is the basis of the recently released film by the same name. It's a tale rich in intense drama and sociological and cultural information. A Maori glossary is appended.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

First published in 1987 in New Zealand-the author's homeland as well as the story's setting-this circuitous novel inspired a film of the same title, which is scheduled for U.S. release this summer. A rather dense prologue tells of the long-ago appearance of a gigantic whale with "a swirling tattoo imprinted on the forehead" and a spear-throwing man riding on its back. After the narrative shifts to contemporary times, readers learn that this "whale rider" was Kahutia Te Rangi, founder of the Maori tribe whose chief is now Koro Apirana, grandfather of the 24-year-old narrator, Rawiri. Hoping for a great-grandson to inherit his title, Koro Apirana is disgusted when the wife of Rawiri's older brother gives birth to a girl. The child, named Kahu in honor of the whale rider, adores her great-grandfather, yet he ignores her, continually dismissing her when she tries to listen in on his lessons to the boys on tribal traditions. But Kahu can communicate with whales and emits a "special radiance," and it becomes evident that she will play a crucial role within her tribe. Despite Kahu's prominence, this story is also very much the narrator's, and as such may be likelier to hold the attention of adults than children. Ihimaera is at his best in depicting the bonds among the family members, but his use of symbols can be heavy-handed and passages focusing on the now-ancient whale may seem slow-moving. Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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