Traditions are customs that are passed down from one generation to another. Generally they remain unchanged as time goes on. In the case of Koro and his tribe change is needed to stay alive. Overshadowed by the fact that he has no eldest boy to pass his leadership to and the constant fear that he will not be able to find the 'one', Koro realizes that tradition needs to be altered in order for his people to remain alive. After years of not allowing women to be involved in any traditional matters and not giving an eldest girl the chance to receive what is rightfully hers' Koro can no longer be stubborn and he must give into change.
Ever since Kahu was an infant she possessed and demonstrated characteristics of the next leader. Tradition and customs would not allow a girl to be the 'one'. Koro continued to search for the one and tested his young boys to see who could be it. When his boys could not find the stone he challenged them to he wept. Kahu realizing this proved herself yet again to be the 'one' when she retrieved "his stone" (Ihimaera 92) from the bottom of the sea. Events began to arise that called and showed the need for the next 'one' such as the whales beaching themselves specifically the elder bull whale. These events demonstrated the change in tradition allowing the tribe to stay alive. When the whale was beached and the males' efforts failed to get it back in the ocean the women, who were typically not included in tribal affairs, were called in to help. At the end of the novel after Kahu proved to be the Whale Rider, Koro realized tradition is meant to be changed. He came to the conclusion that surviving is more important than keeping ancient customs. Koro apologizes for the times he shunned Kahu and his ignorance in not realizing she was the 'one' When she was born he only wished for a boy due to tradition and wanted nothing to do with her, now she is "the best great-grandchild in the whole wide world"(149).