Monday, January 24, 2011

Kahu, the Whale Rider

By the end of Ihimaera’s novel, The Whale Rider, it is clear that Kahu is the whale rider. She is the descendant of Paikea and all of the Maori tribe is witness to these events. Even the stubborn Koro Apirana must admit that the young Kahu is indeed the one who will succeed and rule over the Maori people, despite the fact that she is a woman. According to Koro, the men are the sacred ones and the ones who must lead the tribe. However, Kahu proves them all wrong in the end. The tragedy of the whales stranding themselves on the shore and dying was a real shame and Koro took this to heart. He knew that something was wrong and that it was a sign that the end was near. When their great ancestor, the bull whale, appeared on shore, Koro knew that the fate of the tribe depended on whether the great whale lived or died. The men tried and tried but could not get the beast to swim back out. It was as if it was waiting for its master. When no one was looking, young Kahu mounted the beast and showed everyone who she really was, the descendant of Kahutia Te Rangi.

Even up to the last minute, Koro assumed that it was a boy who mounted the whale when he gasped, “Which of the boys?” This event it showed how stubborn and conventional Koro was. It took the second coming of their leader to convince him that Kahu was meant to lead the tribe and was in fact of great importance to the Maori people. Although in the end, he admits that he should have been more aware of the signs such as when she bit his toe. However, his heart was filled with love regardless when she returned to her people. He admits his mistake in pushing her aside and tells her that he had been wrong from the beginning. The best grandchild he could have ever wanted was born and he couldn’t see past her gender. It proves that sometimes our beliefs can make us blind to the truth. In this case Koro was not only blind but he was also deaf, dumb and stubborn. The best lessons can be the hardest to learn.

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