Whale Rider is a 2002 New Zealand-German family drama film directed by Niki Caro. Based on the novel of the same name by Witi Ihimaera, the film stars Keisha Castle-Hughes as Kahu Paikea Apirana, a twelve-year-old M?ori girl whose ambition is to become the chief of the tribe. Her grandfather Koro Apirana believes that this is a role reserved for males only.
The film was a coproduction between New Zealand and Germany. It was shot on location in Whangara, the setting of the novel. The world premiere was on 9 September 2002, at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film received critical acclaim upon its release. At age 13, Keisha Castle-Hughes became the youngest nominee for the Academy Award for Best Actress before she was surpassed by Quvenzhané Wallis, at age 9, for Beasts of the Southern Wild less than a decade later. The film earned $41.4 million on a NZ$9,235,000 budget. In 2005 the film was named on the BFI list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14.