Story: Te whānau puha – whales

Whale rider – a proverb

The elder in this clip from Whale rider quotes a proverb, ‘He rei ngā niho, he parāoa ngā kauae’ (to have a whale’s tooth, you must also have a whale’s jaw). The item he tosses overboard is known as a ‘rei niho’ – a carved whale tooth worn as a pendant. In this context, the saying means that to retrieve the rei niho from the ocean, you would need to have the strength of a whale.

Using this item

Whalerider
Film by Niki Caro

© 2002 South Pacific Pictures Ltd./ ApolloMedia GmbH & Co. 5. Filmproduktion KG

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How to cite this page:

Bradford Haami, 'Te whānau puha – whales - Whales and Māori society', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/video/9706/whale-rider-a-proverb (accessed 11 August 2022)

Story by Bradford Haami, published 12 Jun 2006