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By Erika Haslup, staff writer

HPU’s Viewpoint Film Series took a glimpse into the lives of New Zealand’s Maori people through the film Whalerider, which played Feb 1 in the Warmer Auditorium. The movie was followed by a discussion moderated by Dr. Lynette Cruz, assistant professor of anthropology.

Whalerider tells the story of a young Maori girl, Paikea, played by actress Keisha Castle-Hughes, who struggles to restore in herself the tensions of her people between the transitions of their past and the demands of western civilization, their changing future.

Paikea’s people are suffering from a loss of spirit. Many have forgotten the values and beliefs that were instilled in them when they were young. But Paikea’s innocence and love of her heritage and her grandfather inspires her to become a leader for her people.

Karo, Paikea’s grandfather and tribe leader, has struggled to find a new leader for the people, and refuses to let Paikea take a leader’s role because she is a female. When Paikea was born her twin brother was believed to be the next great leader, but the twin brother, and Paikea’s mother, died during labor. During the film Paikea mourns, “By being born, I broke the line of the chiefs…back to the ancient ones.”

The movie is laced with symbolism. At one point Karo teaches Paikea a lesson about a rope. He mentions that the rope is like the Paikea’s Maori ancestors, with all the individuals woven together to become strong. As Karo tries to use the rope to fix an old motor, the rope breaks. Karo gives up and looks for new rope, while Paikea mends the rope and uses it to fix the motor. That scene symbolized how the Maori people are broken, but the youth and understanding of Paikea and her generation may be able to mend that broken bond and fix the lives of her people.

During the Viewpoint’s discussion, Cruz mentioned that the struggle of the Maori people in the film is vary similar to what is occurring in Hawaiian culture. Piya Kishore, an MBA marketing student, agreed, but added that, “There’s something about the movie that calls to all cultures.”

Dr. Serena Hashimoto, the Viewpoints chair, was surprised at the large turnout of students for the film. Hashimoto was not expecting many students to attend because the film was being shown on First Friday and since it was early in the semester.

For students who missed Whalerider, it and all other Viewpoint films are available for screening in Fort Street’s LAC. Ten more films will be shown during the spring semester. For more information, see the schedule, this section, or e-mail Hashimoto at shashimoto@hpu.edu.



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