Whale Rider

Release Date: 2002

DVD Release Date: October 28th, 2003

PG-13 |1 hr 41 min

Plot Summary

Only males are allowed to ascend to chiefdom in a Maori tribe in New Zealand. This ancient custom is upset when the child selected to be the next chief dies at birth. However his twin sister, Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), survives. At age 12, she enlists the help of her grandmother (Vicky Haughton) and the training of her uncle (Grant Roa) to claim her birthright. But to break with convention, she'll have to do the impossible: win over her ultra-traditional grandfather (Rawiri Paratene).

Cast: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Vicky Haughton, Cliff Curtis, Grant Roa, Mana Taumaunu, Rachel House, Taungaroa Emile

Director: Niki Caro

Genres: Drama , Children

Production Co: Pandora, South Pacific Pictures, ApolloMedia

Keywords: Inspiring , Touching , Quest , 2000s , Growing up , Passionate , Underdog ,

Ratings & Reviews

  • 90
    Joe MorgensternWall Street Journal

    Seduces us with its leisurely pace and felicitous details into believing that something miraculous is afoot in a mundane rural community.

  • 88
    Carrie RickeyPhiladelphia Inquirer

    The rhythms of Whale Rider are hypnotic as the ebb tide, haunting as the song of the humpback sea mammal, bracing as the ocean spray. It's a movie that rewards the patient viewer. show more

  • 80
    Sheri LindenThe Hollywood Reporter

    The film boasts a terrific newcomer in the lead role, exquisite widescreen photography and a powerful sense of place. show more

See all critic reviews on metacritic.com


Nominated Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Screen Actors Guild Awards (2004)