In the film Whale Rider, what is the significance of the main character's name Paikea?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You asked two questions, so I have edited it down to one - enotes policies specify that you are only allowed to ask one question. I must admit that I love this film! It raises so many issues about gender and tribal minority groups that are very relevant to today's society. This film begins with the birth of Paikea, who is a girl who is born along with a stillborn twin brother. The birth kills her mother. Paikea belongs to a Maori tribe whose legendary tribal leader, the whale rider, was also called Paikea. However, the original Paikea was male, and the grandfather of Paikea, the current tribal leader, insists that only a male can bear this incredibly sacred name - a female is not able to become a tribal leader and lead the tribe on in its broken state through the future. However, of course, the film tells of Paikea's struggle to firstly learn the ways and culture of the tribe, and secondly to earn the name that she has been given, which she does dramatically by rescuing a school of whales, a sacred animal to her tribe, which has become beached on the shore.

mkcapen1 | Student

In the movie the Whale Rider a female infant is born while her twin brother and mother die.  Her father is distraught at her birth.  Originally her father had planned to name his son after Paikea.  The tribe identifies the name as that supposed to be given to the first born son of the leader.  The son would eventually become a tribal leader and the whale rider.

The grandfather is very unhappy that his son would give a girl the name as it should only be given to a boy as believed in his tribe.  However, a twelve year old Pai wants to show her grandfather she is worthy of her destiny and becomes a whale rider.