WHALE RIDER ESSAYA woman’s leadership is often mistrusted

WHALE RIDER ESSAYA woman’s leadership is often mistrusted. Up until recently we have been focused mainly on male leadership and we are just starting to acknowledge women’s leadership skills. In the film Whale Rider, directed by Niki Caro, one of the main characters, Paikea, is doubted in her leadership skills by her grandfather Koro. Paikea develops as a character through the film as she proves to her grandfather that she will make a worthy leader and will lead the tribe through their difficult times. Throughout the film, Paikea convinces her grandfather that she can become a respectable chief and lead their tribe. This shows us that females can become worthy leaders and that alpha males need to see this and let the females have an opportunity. This moral is constructed via a clever use of film techniques while following the lives of a Maori tribe in the late ’70s and early ’80s. This tribe is located on the East Coast of the North Island in New Zealand, in a small village called Whangara.

When Paikea was born her potentials were overlooked. Paikea’s grandfather, Koro, goes to the ward in the hospital where the twins are and commands to “Take her away.” By saying this Koro immediately makes the impression that he wants a grandson to be heir to chiefdom. The directors purpose is to convey to the viewers that Koro does not want Paikea to be chief because he is afraid that the Maori tradition will go extinct and also address the struggles that Pai will have to overcome to find her place in the tribe. A technique used is when Koro is reciting a chant in his native language, Maori, to the deceased boy he introduces the importance of traditional Maori culture and how much it means to the whole tribe. This also suggests that Koro is afraid of losing the Maori culture, this could be the reason that he is so strong about having a grandson. This technique is used to make an impression of what Koro would be like throughout the film and how he sticks to his ancient ways. The effect of this technique is strong because it prepares the viewers for Koro’s dislike of Paikea. Another technique used is separation. When Koro’s wife takes Paikea out if the room after been instructed to by Koro, she stands behind the wall and watches Koro recite the Maori chant through the glass. This symbolises the gender inequality happening around the world and outlines the struggles that Maori women go through to find there place in the tribe, especially Pai. The director deliberately utilised the silence to emphasise that they don’t care about anything else, they are so stuck in their roots. This actually creates a problem. A combination of finely crafted staging, dialogue, sound and camera shots enhance the effectiveness of this technique and successfully conveys the message of how women are pushed to the side and almost forgotten about, not only in Maori culture but also in the present world. This is the reason of Koro’s actions towards Pai and why she struggles when she is growing up. This successful grouping of film techniques makes is interesting for the viewer and keep them engaged in the film. Therefore, Paikea’s struggles will continue unless Koro changes his mind or she proves to him that she can make a worthy leader. The director, Niki Caro, is a female leader and uses her voice through film making to empower female leaders and raise awareness.

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