Eight-year-old Kahu craves her great-grandfather's love and attention. But he's focused on his duties as leader of a tribe that claims descent from the legendary 'whale rider'. In every generation since the whale rider, a male has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir – only Kahu. Her great-grandfather is blinded by tradition and sees no use for a girl. But Kahu will not be ignored. In her struggle she has a unique ally: the whale rider himself.