Throughout the entire novel, it is clearly stated that Kahu was going to save the people. However particularly in the second half of the novel the reader begins to see exactly how she is going to do so, which resembles a certain biblical figure. Kahu saving her tribe and the whales is parallel to Jesus Christ saving humans.
The first instance that I saw similarity between the two was when Kahu went diving into the ocean and went over to the whales. Nanny Flowers, who could be seen as the virgin Mary, begins freaking out, crying and worrying about Kahu. Just like when Jesus is found teaching in the temple and Mary is left worrying about where Jesus is. The next time a connection is seen, is when Koro is discussing the link between natural and supernatural. Koro states that the two are connected through a “birth cord.” This is just as Kahu is connected to the earth with her birth cord. This parallels Jesus being connected to heaven and earth.
In chapter seventeen when Kahu jumps into the ocean, to ride the whales she says “Oh, sacred ancestor. I am coming to you.” (Ihimaera 126) Jesus when dying on the cross calls out to Elijah who was one of his sacred ancestors. Then later on in chapter seventeen and eighteen when Kahu is riding the whale she declares that her people will live and that she is not afraid to die. Both of these statements are easily related to Jesus, in that by dying on the cross he was saving people from sin and he too was not afraid to die. One of the main connections that stuck out to me was at the end of chapter eighteen when the narrator says that Kahu was Kahutia Te Rangi, Paikea, and the whale rider, that being similar to the Holy Trinity consisting of Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit.
Lastly, Kahu is found unconscious, floating in the ocean three days after she was said to be dead. This is obviously an allusion to Jesus’s resurrection three days after he is hung on the cross. There are a few more similarities that I saw throughout the novel. One being Koro denying Kahu as Peter denied Jesus. Witi Ihimaera was clearly influenced greatly by the new testament and kept it in mind while writing this novel.