1) Paikea is an example of a female activist, where she show the belief that men and women should be equal, and neither is superior. The story of Paikea was created and influenced by a man and a woman who both understand the complexities of the Maori lifestyle, and the difficulties that go along with living as a part of it. This is an important point as the creators of the characters can relate to the struggles of Paikea as she attempts to change tradition and make the culture more open to females and their influence. This film shows the new woman in film, as Paikea is a strong independent woman who is shown with emphasis on strength and the ability to surpass all obstacles and rise above the oppression. She represents the new female voice as a woman who can make her own informed choices and have an impact on society and culture. 2) Paikeas actions during the film are a definite statement of empowerment for girls and women.
Her grandfather Koro, the current chief was making decisions that were steeped in traditional cultural methods. He uses these traditions as a way to keep females oppressed and Paikea continued to fight back, and prove him wrong. She is denied access to the “leadership” school, was told not to touch the motor boat pump, she was not allowed to train with the fighting sticks, and was directed to stay away from the whale. In response to all of this adversity, she found ways to achieve these goals on her own. She learns the chanting and taiaha fighting from her uncle, she fies the pump, finds her grandfathers lost whale tooth, wins the speech contest at the school, and saves the whale at the climax. Her actions lead to cultural change, as Koro realizes that empowering women is not a weakness, but it allows for more powerful societies.
3) Counter cinema and female-gaze cinema are both forms of film that are opposed to the dominant forms in Hollywood. Kord and Krimmer state that most films “fail to represent real issues facing women today”, and Whale Rider is a film that definitely does not apply to this criteria. This movie portrays woman quite realistically, and their realistic problems as well. The problems shown range from issues relating to bodily functions, to the issues that go along with attempting to break out of the mold that society seems to put us into. Kord and Krimmer write “commercial pressures….influence today’s film industry”