'Paikea is a
defiant and strange girl who is disrespectful of her clan's
Paikea Appirana is clearly a stubborn girl that does not often
listen to her family and obey orders. However she respects her
culture and customs, and strongly embraces them. She evidently
explains this through her actions, her words and her feelings.
This essay will display how she takes her background to heart,
and even though she is considered an outcast she tries her best
to participate in all her culture's traditions and ceremonies.
Paikea's stubbornness can often be interpreted as one of her
strengths. A vivid example is when Koro holds a ceremony to
celebrate the opening of his new boys' school. Paikea is present
at this event, and takes a seat in the front row seats. Koro,
with his strong beliefs about the traditional place of girls,
orders Pai to move to the back row immediately. Paikea ignores
everything her grandfather tells her, and refuses to move. This
demonstrates her defiance, but it also shows how she can stand up
for herself, and what she believes in. Pai still respects the
Maori culture, but she believes that some things can change.
''Pai, you're a girl go to the back.''
Paikea reflects her stubbornness, by not taking no for an answer.
Koro is teaching his students taiaha- a Maori sport, and Pai will
not accept that she is not allowed to learn. As Koro would never
teach his granddaughter this skill Pai takes the initiative and
instead asks her uncle, a previous taiaha champion. He teaches
her how to master taiaha, and soon Paikea is better than all the
boys in Koro's school. This does not only explain her
stubbornness, but it also shows her courage and how she believes
in her culture and its customs.
Pai also represents how she embraces and loves her culture. In
many scenes of the film, Paikea is illustrating her feelings, not
through words but through singing in her Maori language. At one
point, whales are beaching themselves and many are dead. Pai's
family secretly blames her for this and are not supporting her.
Paikea feels like the world is on her shoulders, so she tries
calling to her ancestors by singing in Maori and asking them to
help her. She symbolically searches for her ancestors through her
singing, and believes that she can reach them if she really gives
her all. This shows that she really does care about her family's
traditions, and that she does want to be part of her culture and
be accepted as a Maori woman.
Lastly, Pai always tries to be involved in school performances
that are linked to the Maori culture. In some performances she is
the only girl at all, but this does not change how she feels. She
is always extremely determined and whenever the opportunity to
represent her culture arises, she grasps it with excitement and
In conclusion, Paikea is an independent girl who does indeed
respect her culture. She illustrates this in many ways, some of
which have been discussed. Even though she may be stubborn and
defiant, her respect and love for her clan's traditions still
remains strong, powerful and one of her many strengths.