• The Whale Rider

  • By: Witi Ihimaera
  • Narrated by: Jay Laga'aia
  • Length: 3 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (194 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

The classic book that inspired the award-winning, internationally released film Whale Rider, winner of Best Film at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and 2004 Academy Awards Best Actress nomination for Keisha Castle-Hughes. Eight-year-old Kahu craves her great-grandfather's love and attention. But he's focused in his duties as Chief, in a tribe that claims decent from the legendary "whale rider". A male has always inherited the title of Chief, but now there is no male heir. There's only Kahu, and her great-grandfather sees no use for a girl. Kahu will not be ignored. And in her struggle she has a unique ally: the whale rider himself.
©1987 Witi Ihimaera (P)2004 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A poetic blend of reality and myth provides a riveting tale of adventure and passion." (School Library Journal)

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What listeners say about The Whale Rider

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Kahu, her great-grandfather, and the whale rider

I stepped into this one backwards. I saw the movie first, then looked for the book. I read the book, then just recently listened to the audiobook thanks to a friend who had it on her ipod. If you like stories of ancient tradition or stories where characters struggle against ancient tradition, this is a good one. The Whale Rider offers a look into the world of a tribe that decends from the legendary "whale rider" and the struggle of Kahu to overcome tradition and be recognized for who she is (and who she can become). This is a good story, and one I would recommend.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

a joy!

Inspiring story for anyone; suitable for "tween agers", but my parents and i really enjoyed it on a drive to California. We had loved the movie, and the book was another joy. The Maori sounding music between chapters added to the mood.

5 people found this helpful

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Not as good as the movie, surprisingly.

This is one of the exceedingly rare cases where the book is not as good as the movie.

If you've not seen the movie "Whale Rider" don't bother reading this until you've seen it. The movie is great and really tells the story perfectly. You'll want to experience it first that way.

For fans of the movie, like me, the most interesting thing about this book is how it differs from the movie. It does differ from the movie in some fundamental ways. In fact, I got the distinct impression that the aspects of the movie that made it as good as it was must have come mainly from Niki Caro's vision, rather than Witi Ihimaera. That's not to say Ihimaera didn't have the seminal idea and a good story to tell, but it seems that Caro saw the real potential here. It's almost as if the movie and the book have different agendas -- different points to make about the world, people in general, the human condition, life, etc.

So even though I wasn't crazy about the book, I recommend it highly for fans of the movie so that you can evaluate the significance of how they differ. It may lead to an even greater appreciation for the movie.

3 people found this helpful

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Maori legend retold - for kids and adults

A gem that glistens. Beautiful. A contemporary rewriting of an ancient Maori legend. Its messages speak of the strength of women, but even more importantly of the oneness of the past and present, the rational and the irrational, what we understand and don’t understand and of all life on earth. This is young adult literature for adults.

The audiobook narration by Kiwian Jay Laga’aia was well done. There is music throughout the recording, but it is the same snippet repeated over and over again. When will we get audiobooks with varied music and numerous songs? Anybody listening out there?


3 people found this helpful

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It tries way to hard

The book deals with several issues faceing today's indigenous people, but the way it does so feels forced and one-sided, which sort of spoils the point.

1 person found this helpful

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beautiful

made me smile, cheer and cry. a beautiful and inspiring book. makes me so proud to be indigenous. love this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Great story and narrator

The musical interludes are too upbeat for a listener like me—remembering the mournful beauty of the movie.

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I really really loved it. Phenomena masterpiece

Sweet memorable and amazing narration.Amazing piece of mind,am glad I learnt a new culture too

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The Mighty Maori Women

A beautiful and in depth journey into the culture of the Maori people, and an inspiring advocation for the role of women in all phases and forms of life. I loved every second!

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Good for traveling through New Zealand

Wonderful insight into contemporary Maori culture and the importance of their sacred relationship with the ancient whales. Listened to this touching story as I was traveling in New Zealand - great choice! Excellent performance/reading. Can't wait to see the movie.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • C Smith x
  • 02-18-18

Great

Very enjoyable book, great story, the movie wasn't quite the same and this provides more understanding

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-03-21

kua tangi au

Cried so hard, was a very emotionally and spiritually touching adventure. The writing immerses you in vivid and colourful imagery, and is brought to life with talented voice acting. The kuia is voiced nearly exactly like mine and I was a blubbering mess listening to this audiobook each night before bed. Tino ātaahua work, with a deeply important message, will be holding this masterpiece in my kete and in my heart ❤

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-18-21

loved it,

loved this book but couldn't help but think some of it i te reo Māori. then i found out this was the international version. now i must find the original. loved the writings loved the narrator

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  • Eva Popov
  • 04-09-21

Ātaahua! Such a beautiful pūrākau!

Wonderfully written. Moving and special. This book connects me to something ancient amd forever. It manages to articulate the inarticulatable.