The Whale Rider Activities

The whale rider

written by Witi Ihimaera

illustrated by Bruce Potter

published by Reed, 2005

This story is set in Whangara, East Coast New Zealand, where a young girl called Kahu is born as a descendent of Paikea who according to legend, rode a whale from Hawaiiki to New Zealand. As the first born to the eldest son of the whanau, Kahu has broken the male line of descent – the first since before Paikea lived many years ago. The story tells of her struggle with her grandfather, Koro Apirana to be recognised as the new leader of the people of Whangara. Koro Apirana cannot accept that a female could be leader. As things start to go wrong for the villagers, Koro Apirana blames the problems on Kahu and sets out to find a suitable male to take over leadership of the whanau. It is almost too late when after the stranding of whales on their home beach, he finally realises that Kahu is indeed the rightful heir to lead the people. The detailed text is divided into four chapters, making it best suited to older children. The life-like illustrations show huge emotion and support the story beautifully. Central to the story is the idea that whilst it is important to remember and respect our heritage, it is also important to keep progressing forwards and not be afraid of change.

Please note that these activities are suggestions which have not yet been trialled. We welcome any feedback on how they play out in the classroom (see the feedback section).

Activity 1: BORROWED MAORI WORDS (English)
NZ Curriculum Level 1 & 2

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
Activity 1. As you read this story with children, write the Maori words in a place where everyone can see them.

2. After reading, revisit the words and discuss them with the children.

  • Do you know what these words say? Let’s read them together.
  • What language are these words in?
  • Why are they in this story?

3. Let’s find out what these words mean.

  • Some children may bring prior knowledge to this task and be able to share some word meanings. Others may require further investigation. A Maori-English dictionary may be useful (see Resources for weblink).
  • Look again through the story at the context in which the word is used. What could this word mean?

Help children to find all word meanings. Write them up beside the Maori words.

The following words occur in the story:

Koro

(grandfather)

marae

(meeting house)

manuhiri

(visitors/ guests)

whanau

(extended family)

moko

(tattoo designs on the face or body)

koroua

(elderly man)

Paikea

(Maori myth says he discovered New Zealand)

paikea

(also humpback whale)

Aotearoa

(New Zealand)

Hawaiki

(Maori ancient homeland)

4. Establish that there are many different words for things in many different languages, and even within the same language.

For example, ‘Koro’ is the word for grandfather in this story. What other words could we use?

Children may use other Maori or English words, or a word from a different culture –poppa, opa, papa, grand-pere, etc

Resources
  • Maori-English dictionary:

http://www.maoridictionary.co.nz/

Taking it further
  • Discuss other Maori words we know, and their meanings (English)
  • Work with a partner to practice using the words in a sentence (links to Learning Languages)
  • Discuss why some people use more Maori words than others (Social Science)
  • Discuss how English has borrowed words from many languages. Give students a list to look up the origins of (English/ Learning Languages)
Curriculum Links English

Listening, Reading and Viewing

  • recognise and identify ideas within and across texts (Level 1)
  • recognise and begin to understand how language features are used for effect within and across texts (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 2)
  • show some understanding of how language features are used for effect within and across texts (Level 2)
Applications for Level 3 and above At Levels 3 and 4, children are expected to begin to use cultural knowledge to communicate appropriately. When discussing things Maori they can learn to use the relevant Maori vocabulary. Some of this is given in the story, however they can research further and find more vocabulary associated with an event – either a death, or another event of their choosing. They should also begin to compare and contrast languages and cultural practices.
Links to other books in NZPBC Haere: Farewell, Jack farewell

The kuia and the spider

- both these books use a lot of Maori vocabulary

Activity 2: PAIKEA – Maori Myth (English)
NZ Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
Description During this story there are references to Paikea, who was the founder of New Zealand in Maori mythology. In the story, Kahu is a direct descendent of Paikea.

Children would enjoy finding out more about this ancient myth, and of Paikea the hero.

1. Find the story of Paikea and share it with the children. Robyn Kahukiwa has retold ‘Paikea’ using beautiful illustrations:

  • Kahukiwa, R. (1994). Paikea. Penguin Books: New Zealand

Here are 2 good online resources:

2. Discuss the story and make connections to ‘The whale rider’.

  • Can you remember some parts of ‘The whale rider’ that referred to Paikea?
  • Can you remember what these parts showed us/ told us about Paikea?
  • Paikea is also a Maori word for humpback whale – can you see how this fits now?

3. Children could respond to the story of Paikea in a variety of ways:

  • Retelling – either written or orally, or as a play
  • Artwork – especially if using Kahukiwa’s version.
Taking it further Explore other Maori myths and legends (English)
Curriculum Links English

  • recognise and identify ideas within and across texts (Level 1)
  • recognise and begin to understand how language features are used for effect within and across texts (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 2)
  • show some understanding of how language features are used for effect within and across texts (Level 2)
  • show a developing understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 3)
  • show a developing understanding of how texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above At Level 6 and beyond, students should become aware that authors use different styles, and be able to identify the styles used in the retelling of myths. They may then be able to use these styles to create their own retelling.
References
Links to other books in NZPBC Counting the Starsa collection of 4 Maori myths.

Battle of the mountains – a Maori myth.

Activity 3: ILLUSTRATION (The Arts)
NZ Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
Activity Bruce Potter’s illustrations in this story are exceptional and they show the characters’ emotions beautifully.

1. After reading the story, look back over the illustrations and discuss:

  • Do you think the illutsrator has done a good job here? Why/ why not?
  • How have they used layout/ colour/ shape/ detail for a particular effect?
  • Which is your favourite illustration and why?

2. Tell the children that as a class, you are going to recreate the story of The whale rider – using your own illustrations. Give each student a part of the story to illustrate.

3. Plan – organise the layout of the illustration and think about colours and details that will be used.

  • At Level 3, students may ‘borrow’ a style – either from Bruce Potter himself, or from another artist they have been studying – perhaps a New Zealand artist?

4. When children have planned their illustration, they can begin creating the ‘real thing’. Use a technique which they have been practising already in class.

It may be

  • crayon and dye
  • paint – watercolour or acrylic
  • print making

5. Share illustrations and talk about the ideas and decisions about how to illustrate as they chose to. Can other children identify the part of the story that has been illustrated?

Illustrations could be put together in a book, or as a wall display with the text alongside.

Curriculum Links The Arts

Visual Art

  • share ideas about how and why their own and others’ works are made and their purpose, value, and context (Level 1 & 2)
  • explore a variety of materials and tools and discover elements and selected principles (Level 1 & 2)
  • investigate visual ideas in response to a variety of motivations, observation, and imagination (Level 1)
  • share the ideas, feelings and stories communicated by their own and others’ objects and images (Level 1 & 2)
  • investigate and develop visual ideas in response to a variety of motivations, observation and imagination (Level 2)
  • investigate the purpose of objects and images from past and present cultures and identify the contexts in which they were or are made, viewed and valued (Level 3)
  • explore some art-making conventions, applying knowledge of elements and selected principles through the use of materials and processes (Level 3)
  • develop and revisit visual ideas, in response to a variety of motivations, observation and imagination, supported by the study of artists’ works (Level 3)
  • describe the ideas their own and others’ objects and images communicate (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above At Levels 4 and above, students could use the same activity. Their illustrations would need to be more detailed and they should show a refining of their artistic skills.
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