Whale Rider
Rawiri

Like many young people, Rawiri finds the need to see the world and know other cultures. He meets the opposition of Nani who does not want him to go afraid that he will not to come back. She does not understand the need young people have to feel independent. “He loved them deeply, but sometimes love becomes a power game between the ambitions that parents have for their children and the ambitions that children have for themselves”.
At the beginning, he is very excited about being in new places. “I was like a kid in a great Toyshop, wanting to touch everything” This shows his excitement about seeing and learning new things.
While he is in Sydney he meets other Maori people with a different life than the one he used to have when he was in Whangara. He feels identified with these Maori people, “I guess also that I didn’t feel that much different”, living a much more independent life. I do not think he questions Maori values, however he appreciates this liberty.
In spite of being away from home, Rawiri is having a lot of new experiences and enjoying them. We can see this when a year after going to Sydney, he receives a call from Porourangi and realises how quick time passes. “Sometimes life has a habit of flooding over you and rushing you along in its overwhelming tide”.
Rawiri is always in contact with his family in Whangara. Although his family is not happy of him being away, he takes his own decisions but keeps in touch with them. When Jeff has to go home to Papua New Guinea, Rawiri goes with him but again meets Nani’s opposition. In the end Nani accepts this need to see the world and tells him not to “make promises about next summer”. This shows that Rawiri loves his family, but at the same time he wants to have his liberty and remain independent.
The idea of people having prejudices appears several times along the chapters. A clear example is when Nani tries to convince him not to go to Papua New Guinea. “You’ll get eaten up by all them cannibals”. Obviously, Nani’s idea does not reflect the present reality of the country.
During his trip to Papua New Guinea, Rawiri has to work very hard. He has to help his friend in the plantation. This situation is not new to him. “It was simply a matter of spitting on my hands and getting off to work”. Although it is a very rough expression, it clearly represents the fact of working hard.
When his friend Jeff runs over a native walking on the side of the road and runs away, he can’t understand their fear and their mentality. This event changed his life, and was one of the reasons of his return. He could not trust Jeff anymore. “And would I be next? There was nothing further to keep me here”. The other reason is that he receives a letter from Kahu telling him that he has just had a sister, and that she loves him, but she is not happy with his long absence from Whangara. Kahu has to keep up with Maori traditions. “‘I am in front row of our Maori culture group at school’ says Kahu.”
When Rawiri comes back, he feels like a different person. He has grown up in many ways: he has been able to travel alone, he has known different countries and cultures and he has met different people of his age. He has been able to see how Maori people keep their values in other communities. At the end, he feels homesick and cannot stand away from his family any more, especially when Kahu, a seven year old girl, shows him that in his absence she is learning Maori culture in spite of being a girl.