Paikea and Koro
In the film Paikea and her grandfather have a very fraught relationship. Koro rejected his baby granddaughter at birth because her twin brother died and she lived. In a way Koro resents Paikea for this. Even though her grandfather does love her, Paikea must learn to transcend both his and her society’s prejudice. Paikea is marginalised because she is a girl. She is regarded as subservient because she is a girl. Paikea is a source of disappointment for her grandfather because she is not the male heir that he so desired to succeed him as chieftain of the Maori tribe.
Paikea works tirelessly throughout the film to acquire her grandfather’s acceptance and approbation. She must learn to rise above his belittling remarks and rebuffs. She shows immense resilience of character by remaining loyal and committed to her grandfather. She cares deeply for her grandfather. Her grandfather does love his granddaughter but because he is an implacable character, there is a lot of tension and disappointment in their relationship. He refuses to believe that Paikea finding the rei puta identifies her as the legitimate successor. He is irritated when she asks him questions.
However, he is proud that Paikea takes a keen interest in the Maori beliefs, customs and traditions and he enjoys sharing this information with his granddaughter.
This relationship changes when Koro finally accepts Paikea as the chieftain of the Maori tribe after she altruistically saves the whales. She proves that she is the leader by saving the whales even though she put her own safety in jeopardy. Koro begs forgiveness from Paikea and accepts her as the new chieftain of the Maori tribe. The relationship transitions from initial rejection, to a begrudging acceptance to finally a relationship based on loving acceptance and pride.