To the Maori, an indigenous people found in New Zealand, the whale's tail symbolizes speed, strength, protection and the bond between animal and man, according to Tuarangi, a website dedicated to Maori culture. The whale tail may also represent safe passage when traveling by water.
Whales are pervasive in Maori culture. Whale Rider, a film based off of a fictional book, details the complex relationships between a young girl, her culture and her grandfather's unyielding attitude toward tradition. The girl, Pai, eventually leads a group of beached whales safely out to sea, which correlates with the whale tail as a symbol both of safe passage and the bond between animal and man.