Author(s): Witi Ihimaera
The birth of a daughter - Kahu - breaks the lineage of a Maori tribe. Rejected by her grandfather, Kahu develops the ability to communicate with whales, echoing those of the ancient Whale Rider after whom she was named. This magical and mythical novel tells of the conflict between tradition and heritage, from the perspective of Kahu's grandfather, and Kahu's destiny to secure the tribe's future.
I read this as a part of my attempt to read more New Zealand literature. I saw the film years ago and can’t remember a lot about it, but I do remember my mum being very moved by it. I was probably too young to fully understand what the characters were experiencing. What I missed from the film I undoubtedly found in the book. This book was the perfect length and I was able to read it in one sitting. Kahu was the most delightful heroine and Ihimaera’s storytelling was spot-on. - Holly
Witi Ihimaera was the first Maori to publish both a book of short stories and a novel, and since then has published many notable novels and collections of short stories. Described by Metro magazine as 'Part oracle, part memoralist,' and 'an inspired voice, weaving many stories together', Ihimaera has also written for stage and screen, edited books on the arts and culture, as well as published various works for children. His best-known novel is The Whale Rider, which was made into a hugely, internationally successful film in 2002. His novel Nights in the Garden of Spain was also made into a feature film, and was distributed internationally under the name of Kawa. The feature film White Lies was based on his novella Medicine Woman. And his novel Bulibasha, King of the Gypsies inspired the 2016 feature film Mahana. His first book, Pounamu, Pounamu, has not been out of print in the 40 years since publication. He has also had careers in diplomacy, teaching, theatre, opera, film and television. In 1993 Ihimaera spent a year in France on the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship. He has received numerous awards, including the Wattie Book of the Year Award and the Montana Book Award, the inaugural Star of Oceania Award, University of Hawaii 2009, a laureate award from the New Zealand Arts Foundation 2009, the