Whale Rider is going to be on top of my list of best movies seen in 2003. Set in New Zealand, its a story about leadership, preserving traditional culture, passing the torch, coming of age, connection with ancestors and nature, breaking with tradition, adapting, and more. Keisha Castle-Hughes is the would be heir apparent to tribal leader. But there is one problem, her grandfather, Paka expected a boy. That is all I will say, probably too much already. Go see the movie.
I was fortunate to go to Aotearoa (New Zealand) once and am dying to go back again. The Maori culture is deep and intact. I kept seeing similarities between the Maori and Hawaiian cultures. I saw Hawaii in the `a`ali`i and `ohia tress there. Sites like that kept me connected and reminded me that we are all connected to one another. Not only in the present but also in the past, to our ancestors.