What Culture Is Moana

How the Story of “Moana” and Maui Holds Up Against Cultural Truths

My previous statements are still true; the colonization of the Pacific Islands is without a doubt the greatest human adventure narrative that has ever been told. Aegean peoples used Stone Age technology to construct voyaging canoes capable of traversing hundreds of miles, then ventured off against the winds and currents in search of little islands scattered throughout the world’s biggest ocean. Following their discovery, they journeyed back and forth, again and endlessly, to settle them—all of this around 500 to 1,000 years ago.

Since 1976, when it began on its historic inaugural trip to restore the lost heritage of this ocean-sailing practice, theHkleavoyaging canoe has demonstrated the effectiveness of traditional Oceanic navigation.

However, one significant enigma, frequently referred to as “The Long Pause,” leaves a gaping void in the history of voyaging.

However, it was not until 1,500 to 500 years ago that the islands of Central and Eastern Polynesia were populated.

  1. Hokule’a’s arrival in Honolulu from Tahiti in 1976 was a watershed moment in Hawaiian history.
  2. Nobody knows what caused The Long Pause, or why the Polynesians began voyaging again after a period of inactivity.
  3. IntroducingMoana, the newest Disney film, which is set in what looks to be Samoa, despite the fact that most American moviegoers will recognize the setting as Hawaii.
  4. Te Fiti, it turns out, is an island god (Tahiti, in its various linguistic forms, including Tafiti, is a pan-Polynesian word for any faraway place).
  5. The task is made more urgent by an environmental catastrophe that is sweeping over the island.
  6. However, as is to be anticipated whenever Disney enters a cross-cultural environment, the picture is defined by its share of good, bad, and ugly moments as well as its share of awful.
  7. Armstrong Sperry’s inspiring, iconic bookCall It Courage, as well as Tom Hanks’s filmCastaway, may also be seen in the film.

However, the film’s narrative takes a different approach, culminating in a stunning revelation: They had ceased voyaging a long time ago, and they had imposed a taboo on traveling beyond the reef, fearing that they would encounter another Polynesian world.

And thus, in true Disney fashion, the Long Pause comes to a close, with a vast fleet of canoes setting sail across the ocean to complete the greatest human adventure of all time, the Great Expedition.

As someone who teaches courses on traditional nautical navigation and migration, I believe it is past time for the rest of the world to hear about this incredible narrative.

However, there is a great deal to critique.

Maui has always been represented as an alithe adolescent on the threshold of becoming a young man.

A number of critics have expressed concern that this portrayal of Maui “perpetuates insulting perceptions of Polynesians as obese.” Trisha Kehaulani Watson-Sproat, a Native Hawaiian woman who I consider a friend, adds, “Our males are better, more attractive, stronger, and more confident.” In spite of the fact that I felt enormous pride in the Moana character, as the mother of a Hawaiian child, the Maui character left me feeling terribly heartbroken and dejected.

  1. This is not a film that I would want him to see in any capacity.
  2. The massive fale at the National University of Samoa is a sight to see.
  3. Kaili, a Tongan cultural anthropologist, describes in great detail how Hina, Maui’s companion goddess, is utterly absent from the account.
  4. Smith.
  5. It is also monotonous and cliché to see joyful natives carrying coconuts, which is another common image of the region.
  6. They are a staple of the caricature of Pacific peoples that has become popular in recent years.
  7. Apart from the peasants singing and picking coconuts, we also witness a whole race of people known as the Kakamora who are represented by, well, coconuts.

Themas, according to Disney, are “a small race who wears armor made of coconuts.” They dwell aboard a ship that is covered in junk and flotsam and that drifts freely about the ocean.” Their boats are shown in the film as resembling “Mad Max meets the Tiki Barge,” replete with coconut palms sprouting on top of them.

  1. At the same time, it’s completely ridiculous.
  2. They look a lot like the menehune of Hawai’i and have absolutely no similarity to the Disney knock-off.
  3. The depiction of these imaginary beings as “coconut people” is not only cultural appropriation for the sake of popular culture, but it is also in poor taste.
  4. The Oceanic Story Trust, a board of advisors comprised of supposedly Pacific Islanders, was established by the Disney company for this film, according to the company.

In stark contrast to the actions currently underway at Standing Rock, where Native Americans and their allies are being attacked, arrested, and sprayed with water cannons (in the freezing cold) for attempting to defend their water sources and sacred lands, this glorification of indigenous peoples working to save their island from environmental catastrophe stands out.

  1. “Just because it has brown advisers doesn’t mean it’s a brown narrative.
  2. A male dancer demonstrates his pe’a (body tattoo) As a result, many Pacific islands continue to have some form of neocolonial connection with the nations who colonized them.
  3. It took the arrival ofHklea to prove them incorrect.
  4. Putting aside the film’s cultural repulsion, it is entertaining and even inspiring when taken out of context.
  5. The interaction with navigation and wayfinding is the most thrilling part of the experience for this viewer.
  6. “We used the stars, the wind, and the currents as our guides,” she added.
  7. “I admire how strong she was and how dedicated she was to the cause of saving her community.” There are kapa (Samoansiapo —traditional bark cloth) costumes and the credits scroll over a piece of kapa, which she points out to us.
  8. There are a number of interesting nuances that really enhance the overall plot.
  9. And, of course, the canoes themselves, which are meticulously detailed.

American Indian History A sign held by Pacific Islander communities walking in solidarity with Indigenous peoples from Turtle Island at the March for Real Climate Leadership in Oakland, California, in 2015. Videos to Watch in the Pacific Ocean

The Cultural Significance and Symbolism of the film “Moana”

My previous statements are still true; the colonization of the Pacific Islands is without a doubt the greatest human adventure narrative that has ever been told in history. Aegean peoples used Stone Age technology to construct voyaging canoes capable of traveling thousands of miles, then set out against the winds and currents in search of tiny islands dotted throughout the world’s largest ocean. Following their discovery, they traveled back and forth, repeatedly and endlessly, to settle them—all of this approximately 500 to 1000 years ago.

  1. Since 1976, when it embarked on its historic maiden voyage to recover the lost heritage of this ocean-sailing tradition, theHkleavoyaging canoehas demonstrated the effectiveness of traditional Oceanic navigation.
  2. Although the timeline of the voyages is filled with mysteries, one particularly large mystery, known as “The Long Pause,” creates an enormous gap in the narrative.
  3. However, it was not until 1,500 to 500 years ago that the islands of Central and Eastern Polynesia were colonized.
  4. The arrival of the ship Hokule’a in Honolulu from Tahiti in 1976 was a watershed moment in Hawaiian history.
  5. We still don’t know what caused The Long Pause, or why the Polynesians decided to resume their voyages.
  6. IntroducingMoana, the newest Disney film, which is set in what appears to be Samoa, despite the fact that most American audiences will recognize the location as Hawaii.
  7. Te Fiti, it turns out, is an island deity (Tahiti, in its various linguistic forms, including Tafiti, is a pan-Polynesian word for any faraway place).

The mission is made more urgent by an environmental disaster that is spreading across the island.

While there are some positive aspects, there are also some negative aspects, as is to be expected whenever Disney enters a cross-cultural milieu.

Armstrong Sperry’s stirring, classic bookCall It Courage, as well as Tom Hanks’s filmCastaway, can also be seen in the film as well.

In addition, the film’s story takes an unexpected turn that results in a powerful revelation: Beyond the reef, Moana’s people had given up the pursuit of adventure long ago, fearing they might encounter another Polynesian world.

And thus, in true Disney fashion, the Long Pause comes to a close, with a vast fleet of canoes setting sail across the ocean to complete the greatest human adventure of all time, the Great Voyage.

As someone who teaches courses on traditional nautical navigation and migration, I can declare emphatically that the rest of the world should be made aware of this incredible historical fact.

However, there is a lot to be critical of as well as positive.

As an adolescent on the threshold of manhood, Maui has often been represented as alithe.

This portrayal of Maui has been criticized for perpetuating derogatory perceptions of Polynesians as obese, according to the critics.

In spite of the fact that I felt enormous pride in the Moana character, as the mother of a Hawaiian son, the Maui character left me feeling terribly saddened and depressed.

It’s not a Maui character that I would want him to see or that I believe is culturally acceptable, nor is it a figure he should aspire to be like.” The massive fale at the National University of Samoa is an impressive sight.

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Kaili, Hina, Maui’s companion goddess and companion figure, is totally absent from the narrative.

Maui’s unexpectedly braggadocios performance in the film’s song “You’re Welcome!” was made possible by Hina’s assistance.

It is also monotonous and cliché to see joyful natives carrying coconuts, which is another common image of the country.

These stereotypes of Pacific peoples are a component of the joke that is made about them.

Apart from the peasants singing and collecting coconuts, we also witness a whole race of people known as the Kakamora who are represented by, well, coconuts.

A small race that wears armor made of coconuts, according to Disney, is themas.

When it comes to obtaining what they want, Disney’s Kakamora are harsh, unyielding, and equipped with high-tech weapons.

Although the Kakamora are a people of the Solomon Islands, they have genuine cultural roots: they are an alegendary people with diminutive height who hail from the country of Madagascar.

Occasionally, the term “coconut” is used to denigrate Pacific Islanders and other persons with dark skin.

At a fiafia (party) in Samoa, a female dancer performs.

However, as Pacific Island scholar Vicente Diaz of Guam points out in his damning critique of Disney’s exploitation of Native cultures: “Who gets to authenticate such a diverse set of cultures and such a vast region as Polynesia, and the even more diverse and larger Pacific Island region that is also represented in this film?

  • This whitewashing of history obscures the fact that these same peoples were colonized and their civilizations were fragmented by the Western world.
  • For the most part, as New Zealand educatorTina Ngata points out, “Moana is not an indigenous narrative.” “It is not a brown narrative just because it has brown advisers,” says the author.
  • Scholars even doubted that Pacific Islanders could have accomplished such a big feat of navigation and population expansion until 1976, on the grounds that they weren’t intelligent enough.
  • In spite of all of the evil and nasty in this film—enough to prompt the creation of a Facebook page with thousands of followers—there is still inspiration and pleasure to be discovered inside its pages.
  • The character of Moana is strong, and Auli’i Cravalho’s performance as her is obvious and compelling.
  • “We sailed the wide ocean inwa’a utilizing the stars, the wind, and the currents as our guides,” Sabra Kauka, a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner, told me.
  • The fale of Samoa has an umbrella-like design.
  • Roundfale (traditional Samoan dwellings), the father’spea (traditional body tattoo), and a scenario depicting the craft of traditional tattooing may all be seen in this gallery (tattoo, incidentally, is a Polynesian word).
  • In an otherwise culturally unclear soundtrack, the music given by the Samoan-born artistOpetaia Foa’i, whose parents were from Tokelau and Tuvalu, gives the film a particular island character.

– American Indian History A banner held by Pacific Islander communities marching in solidarity with Indigenous peoples from Turtle Island at the March for Real Climate Leadership in Oakland, California in 2015. Recommended Videos for the Pacific Ocean

  • “Disney’s depiction of an obese Polynesian god in the film Moana sparks outrage,” reports Eleanor Ainge Roy. The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 27 June 2016, Keely Flaherty
  • Flaherty, Keely “34 Magical ‘Moana’ Facts You Probably Didn’t Know,” according to the article. BuzzFeed, BuzzFeed, www.buzzfeed.com/keelyflaherty/magical-moana-facts-you-probably-didnt-know?utm term=.cuQ0160jm.vb9Q3ZQyR
  • Doug Herman, “Magical Moana Facts You Probably Didnt Know,” www.buzzfeed.com/keelyflaherty/magical-mo What the Story of “Moana” and Maui Holds Up Against Cultural Truths is the subject of this article. How the narrative of Moana and Maui stands up against cultural facts, Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 2 Dec. 2016, www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/how-story-moana-and-maui-holds-up-against-cultural-truths-180961258/

Moana: The Polynesian Origins & Real Life Inspirations Explained

Polynesian tales, history, and culture were the inspiration for Disney’sMoanawas, which was well commended for its attempts to maintain cultural authenticity. Auli’i Cravalho voices Moana, the daughter of Motunui’s chief Tui, who is selected by the ocean to restore the goddess Te Fiti’s heart after it was taken by the shape-shifting demigod Maui (voiced by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) and lost to the depths of the ocean. When filmmakers Ron Clements and John Musker presented their concept for a Polynesian mythology-inspired animated picture to then-Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, the latter suggested that the men embark on research visits to the islands.

Anthropologists, historians, cultural practitioners, linguists, tattoo artists, elders, fisherman, and others were enlisted to provide advice on the film’s most minute elements, which included the film’s title and the film’s ending.

As explained in the film’s opening sequences, when the mother island Te Fiti, who has the ability to create life and bring other islands into existence, has her heart – an engraved pounamu (a stone of great cultural significance in Mori culture, and which is considered a taonga, or treasure) – she is able to create life and bring other islands into existence.

Maui, now in possession of Te Fiti’s heart, is assaulted by the fire demon Te Ka and loses both his magical fish hook and Te Fiti’s heart to the ocean as a result of the attack.

Moana Learns WayfindingReferences The Long Pause

When Moana suggests fishing outside the island’s reef, the audience learns that Moana’s people have long since stopped voyaging and have instituted a taboo (which is itself a word of Tongan origin) against doing so. As a result, Moana’s father reacts angrily when she suggests going outside the island’s reef. This refers to a period in Polynesian history known as the “Long Pause,” according to academics. Western Polynesia was inhabited three and a half millennia ago by humans who used Stone Age technology to travel hundreds of miles across the ocean and somehow discovered little islands among the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, which is the world’s largest ocean.

However, while those islands in the western hemisphere, such as Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga, were quickly colonized, it took another 2,000 years before they settled the islands of Central and Eastern Polynesia, such as Tahiti, Bora Bora, Easter Island, and Hawai’i, which were only 500 to 1,500 years old at the time of their settlement.

Migration researchers have proposed a variety of explanations, ranging from ciguatera fish poisoning induced by a deadly algae bloom to favorable wind conditions caused by a prolonged period of El Nio (a warming of average sea temperatures).

After decades spent on land because the “darkness” has rendered the oceans too dangerous to navigate, Moana urges her people to recover the art of navigation and to go on a new journey of discovery in the ocean.

Even while Polynesian navigation relied primarily on observation of the stars and other indicators from the sky and sea as well as information passed down via oral tradition, certain navigational tools used by Polynesians date back thousands of years before those used by European explorers.

Navigation was a precise science, and the skills used in it, as well as the processes used in the construction of outrigger canoes, were guarded as guild secrets.

Maui The Demigod Is Assembled From Different Polynesian Myths

Maui, the Polynesian demigod, instructs Moana on how to navigate her way about. It’s noteworthy to note that the term “tattoo” is a loanword from the Samoan language, and that the song “You’re Welcome” serves as a vehicle for Maui to narrate his successes and experiences. Many features ofMoana are the product of Disney blending elements of various Polynesian traditions, and The Rock’s character is no exception. Due to the fact that variations of Maui exist in various forms in civilizations across most of the Pacific Islands, Disney used multiple myths about the demigod and a generous amount of creative license, such as making Maui an orphan in order to elicit pity, to create Moana’s mythological figure.

The legends tell of how Maui used his hook to lift the Pacific Islands that make up Polynesia from the ocean floor.

However, the final design was ultimately approved by Disney.

The Oceanic Trust was the driving force behind the most significant modification: Maui’s hair.

As recounted by Hinano Murphy, a trust member and Tahitian cultural practitioner, when he first saw the designs, he immediately advised the animators that “we need to add more hair on Maui’s head because it’s really significant.” Murphy said, The demigod’s strength is contained within his hair, which contains the mana.

We considered that to be quite essential.” When it comes to Melanesian and Polynesian cultures, mana is referred to be a spiritual life force or healing power that may manifest itself as energy or healing power in objects, places, and people.

The Devil Is In The Details

The two most important aspects of Moana’s voyage, her learning to navigate and her connection with Maui, were pulled from Polynesian history and mythology, and they serve as inspiration for the film. However, according to the Oceanic Trust, there are several additional aspects that add to the overall tale of Moana. Every detail, from the traditional fale (Samoan houses) to Chief Tui’s pe’a (traditional male tattoo of Samoa), the canoes being drawn in intricate detail and based on ancient Fijian-style boats, and the type of pits used for cooking food, to Moana’s clothing being made from materials and designs authentic to the time and culture, Moanaweaves an intricate web of minute but meticulously detailed elements.

It only goes to show how much can be done when creative studios collaborate with the appropriate individuals.

Information about the release, the story, and whether or not it will take place What the Death of Keaton’s Robin Means for Tim Burton’s Batman Films Being a member of the DCEU Canon a little bit about the author Laura Potier is a writer who lives in New York City (38 Articles Published) The author, Laura, has worked as a news and features writer for Screen Rant since 2016.

She particularly enjoys chatting with actors and directors about their projects, and she has had the pleasure of interviewing people such as Sir Patrick Stewart, Robert De Niro, and Melissa McCarthy, among others.

Follow her on Twitter @laura potier to discuss whether film, Legally Blonde or Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, deserves to be declared the greatest film ever made in cinematic history. Who is this Citizen Kane character? Laura Potier has more to say.

Disney’s “Moana” Compared to True Hawaiian Culture

For millennia, the cultures of Polynesia and Hawaii have piqued the interest of the Western world. During the voyage of Captain Cook, who discovered that indigenous Hawaiians spoke a language that was more closely related to the South Pacific Islands than any other language, the mythology surrounding Hawaiian and Polynesian people was born. Polynesians were the first people to be successful in bringing people over the ocean to inhabit these little patches of land that were rich with volcanic activity, such as Hawaii and Tahiti, employing old technology that had been passed down from generation to generation.

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For over 2,000 years, no one seemed to venture beyond the boundaries of the ancient Polynesian landmass.

However, when they returned to travel, they did it with tremendous zeal, and they finally made it to Hawaii, Tahiti, and New Zealand, among other destinations.

It was they who initially established farming systems near the water, with a second wave of settlers, the Tahitians, arriving hundreds of years later to complete the task.

The plot of Disney’s Moana

Some portions of Polynesian history have been accurately represented in Moana, while others have been overblown. Moana is a Disney animated film that was released in 2017. Moana is a Disney film that takes place on the mythical island of Motunui. She is chosen to sail and return the heart of Te Fiti, an island goddess, after it has been taken by the demigod Maui in order to give humans the ability to create new life on the planet. Te Feti’s heart is represented by a pounamu stone amulet, which has been lost to the depths of the ocean.

  1. At the time of the blight, Moana’s people had ceased traveling for a long time and were attempting to protect themselves by building a reef around themselves.
  2. Moana is having difficulty learning to sail and getting past her home reef.
  3. Once Moana has demonstrated her ability to travel successfully, her people will begin traveling once more.
  4. Comparisons of Hawaiian culture and Moana’s character The Polynesian people have risen to prominence as a result of Disney’s efforts.
  5. In Polynesian culture, for example, the deity Maui is seen as a genuine demigod who works for the benefit of all humanity.
  6. In the film, Maui is represented as an overweight and uneducated guy, which is an unflattering representation of the culture.
  7. Hina was left out of the story, which was a mistake on Disney’s part.

In order to illustrate the harmony of the universe, every deity needs a counterpart goddess.

Furthermore, Disney typically depicts island dwellers as holding coconuts, which is a tired trope.

Many people believe that Disney’s excessive usage of coconuts in this film is in poor taste.

They are depicted as wild, filthy pirates that roam the oceans at will.

In true Polynesian legend, they do not behave or appear in the manner depicted in the film.

While enjoying this film for entertainment purposes is a wonderful notion, it is crucial to realize that the true history of Polynesia is drastically different.

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Which Polynesian Culture Is Moana Based On – Kauai Hawaii

Despite the fact that Moana comes from the imaginary island of Motunui, her tale and culture are based on the very real heritage and history of Polynesian islands like as Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, and Tahiti, as well as the mythology of the Polynesian people. In fact, if you start looking for connections to Polynesian culture in Moana, it might be tough to stop once you get going!

What Region Is Moana Based On?

On a fictitious island in the central Pacific Ocean, inspired by parts of the real-life island republics of Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga, Clements and Musker placed the picture at that time period, around two thousand years ago.

What Race Is Maui From Moana?

Inspiration Māui, a God in Maori and Hawaiian mythology
Character Information
Species Kupua
Other Names

What Culture Is The Moana Movie Based On?

Despite the fact that Moana comes from the imaginary island of Motunui, her tale and culture are based on the very real heritage and history of Polynesian islands like as Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, and Tahiti, as well as the mythology of the Polynesian people.

Is Moana Based On Polynesian Folklore?

For its cultural authenticity, Moana, a Disney picture based on Polynesian tales, history, and culture, has gotten a great deal of positive feedback.

Is Te Fiti Based On A Real Island?

Polynesian tales, history, and culture are the inspiration for Moana, a Disney picture that has earned a great deal of critical praise for its authenticity in depicting Polynesian culture.

Is Moana A Filipino Or Hawaiian?

The narrative is set 3,000 years ago on the Polynesian islands of Hawaii, Tonga, and Tahiti, which include the islands of Hawaii, Tonga, and Tahiti, as well as other islands in the Pacific. “Moana” is a 16-year-old girl who goes on an ocean trip with Maui, who is played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Moana is played by Hawaiian actress Auli’i Cravalho in the film.

Is Moana Based In The Philippines?

Consequently, Moana cannot be from Hawaii or New Zealand; she must be from Tonga or Samoa, the two earliest archipelagos where the Polynesian People were born, according to the final conclusion. During this historical period, the development of Polynesian culture, language, and even physical appearance took place.

Is Moana Set In New Zealand?

However, it isn’t Polynesia in the sense that we are accustomed to viewing it. As shown during a recent D23 expo in Anaheim, California, an in-progress sneak peek of the animated Disney film Moana revealed that the South Pacific of the film would be a non-specific, timeless, pre-European Pasifika.

What Is The Race Of People In Moana?

Dwayne Johnson (Maui), Oscar Kightley (Fisherman), and Troy Polamalu (Villager No. 1) were all born in Hawaii and have Native Hawaiian ancestry; Dwayne Johnson 1) has Samoan ancestors; and 2) was born in New Zealand. Aulii Cravalho (Moana) and Nicole Scherzinger (Sina, Moana’s mother) were both born in Hawaii and have Native Hawaiian

What Race Is Polynesian?

In the Pacific Ocean, Polynesians are a linguistic group of closely related people who are indigenous to Polynesia (the islands of the Polynesian Triangle), a huge region of Oceania that includes the islands of the Polynesian Triangle. Polynesians are also known as Polynesians.

What Race Is Te Fiti?

Te Kā
Inspiration Pele The Goddess from Hawaiian Mythology
Character Information
Other Names

Watch which polynesian culture is moana based on Video

When John Musker and Ron Clements informed Disney Animation CEO John Lasseter that they were interested in producing a new tale based on the Polynesian demi-god Maui, Lasseter responded with one word: “Go investigate.” Musker and Clements were given one week to do their research. Clements and Musker have an even longer history with Disney than Lasseter does; as the writer-director duo of The Little Mermaid andAladdin, they are widely credited with establishing the contemporary Disney animated musical as we know it.

  • This was the beginning of a process that has resulted in Moana being one of Disney’s most culturally genuine productions to date.
  • Musker and Clements’ first journey to Polynesia in 2011, the first of many that would follow, resulted in the formation of the Oceanic Trust, which they would eventually rename.
  • Thanks to Walt Disney Pictures for providing this image.
  • Even the film’s young star, Auli’i Cravalho, a Hawaiian adolescent who is making her feature film debut, said that she was not overjoyed by Disney’s interest in Moana and that she was hesitant to approach the picture without reservations.
  • The fact that it is inspired by a culture is something that everyone can admit to being a little terrified of.
  • The Pacific Island Media Association’s Will Ilolahia told Waatea News in June that Disney’s version of Maui “appeared offensively wrong to him” because “Maui is depicted in the stories that have been handed down, especially in my culture, as a person of strength.
  • According to Cravalho, a 15-year-old student, “I believe that we did the correct thing as far as the costume was concerned and as far as Maui was concerned.” Musker describes the opposition as “understandable” in light of the traditionally negative portrayal of Pacific Islanders in cinema.
  • Even Disney’s revival in the early 1990s, however, was not without its critics.

However, by the time Disney made its first trip to the Pacific Islands with 2002’sLilo and Stitch, the company’s increased commitment to cultural respect had led to island research trips as well as a cast of Hawaiian voice actors who were encouraged to rewrite their lines to include more accurate pidgin and Hawaiian slang.

In the middle of Moana, there comes a show-stopping piece called “We Know the Way,” which incorporates images of Moana’s ancestors performing the lost technique of wayfinding, also known as oceanic navigation, on the water.

“It’s the equivalent of wearing tuxedos.” It was a funny experience,” Clements says, chuckling, “because you were in the middle of the ocean and you were wearing tuxedos.” The Oceanic Trust provided frequent feedback during the production process, which helped to define the film on every level.

Because, as Fonoti describes it, Moana “raised a flag,” she was removed from the film for throwing a temper tantrum and hurling coconuts on the sand in fury, a scene in which she “raised a flag” and called the waste of the precious coconut “extremely awful” was eliminated.

Although the character’s physical appearance wasn’t universally admired back in June, his previous design was far shorter and, more importantly, bald.

The demigod’s strength is contained within his hair, which contains the mana. It appeared to be as if he was completely nude. We considered that to be quite essential.”

What Culture is Moana?

Jamiea85 responded with: “Really?! So Disney is completely clueless?! You cannot claim that it is a blend of polesnesian theories, you cretins! Maori, Samoan, and Hawaiian cultures are vastly diverse from one another, with beliefs, languages, tales, and countries that are all distinct from one another! Moana is one of my favorite Disney characters. I’m from New Zealand, and this is completely incorrect! Do you even have a general idea of where we all are on a map? For starters, they can communicate in Maori and perform islander dances.

  1. Maori is what it is.
  2. Hawaiian is Hawaiian – you freakin illiterate cretins, you!
  3. Alternatively, how about Mexico?
  4. Dumbass!
  5. Of course, as a result of their isolation and time, their cultures began to diverge.
  6. Your “counterexample” is completely incorrect in a slew of ways.
  7. Similar reasoning may be used to the polynesians; for example, while all Samoans are polynesians, not all polynesians are also samoans.
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Critics accuse Disney of ‘culture theft’ ahead of ‘Moana’ release

Jamiea85 expressed surprise at the statement. So Disney is completely uneducated. You can’t claim it’s a blend of polesnesian and other theories, you moronic cretins. All three peoples have extremely diverse civilizations, each with their own set of beliefs and languages, each with their own set of tales, and each with their own country. Moana is one of my favorite Disney characters ever. This is just incorrect for me as a New Zealander. Even if you were to look at a map, would you know where we were all situated?

  1. Maori is NOT a polesnesian culture, and you should have done your freaking studies before making such a sweeping statement.
  2. ‘Hawaiian is Hawaiian,’ you freakin illiterate moron.
  3. Alternatively, how about Mexico.
  4. Dumbass!
  5. Too many things about your “counterexample” are false.

Take, for example, Mexico. Mexicans ARE latino-americans, but not all latino-americans are mexicans (and vice versa). Polinesians follow a similar reasoning; for example, Samoans are polynesians, but not all polynesians are samoans, and vice versa.

Culture Check: Moana and Mismatched Traditions

Daley Wilhelm contributed to this article. Moana made me experience a variety of emotions. While watching the movie and listening to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson fully inhabit one of his most suitable characters to date as Maui the Demigod, I couldn’t help but giggle. It made me fall in love with the film’s main heroine, Moana, who has since become my new favorite Disney character who is not a princess. I’ll admit that it brought tears to my eyes as the story reached its lowest moments. It also made me feel uneasy.

  • Disney frequently acts as a child’s first introduction to the world outside of their own environment and what they are familiar with.
  • Aladdin was the one who defined the Middle East.
  • And now that Moana would serve as a representation of what children today would associate with Polynesia, Disney had the burden of ensuring that Polynesians were accurately represented.
  • The plot is based on legends from Hawaii, Tahiti, and Samoa, and it is set in Polynesia.
  • After further investigation, I believe that Moana was correct.

This is all about Hawaii? Right?

Wrong. Polynesia is a massive region. On a map, it may be drawn as a triangle with the points of Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island as its three points. Somoa, Tonga, Fiji, and a slew of other islands are contained inside the triangle. What binds all of these islands together is a similar, though not always identical, language and set of cultural ideas. This is due to the fact that the people who lived in the Polynesian Triangle were traditionally sailors and navigators who traveled from island to island.

Spoilers here beyond the reef

Moana is on a mission to track down Te Fiti and bring her heart back to life. Using just the ocean, Te Fiti, an island goddess both literally and symbolically, created Polynesia and its people from nothing but water. This magnificent creator goddess, on the other hand, is not mentioned elsewhere in Polynesian mythology. On the other hand, it’s been speculated that Disney, taking some liberties with old folklore, may have modelled Te Fiti and her fiery alter ego Te Ka on the Hawaiian goddess Pele, who is associated with lightning, wind, and volcanoes.

After all, Pele is less of a green, loving goddess and more of a goddess recognized for her might and even more intense jealousy than she is for her greenness and love.

Te Fiti’s Heart

Te Fiti’s Heart, a little green stone gifted to Moana by the ocean, serves as the film’s MacGuffin. This is figuratively Te Fiti’s heart, which Maui pulled from a curiously shimmering spiral on a woman-shaped island in the Pacific Ocean. The spiral design is referred to as a ” koru,” and it is frequently seen in Maori art, jewelry, and tattoos. A native New Zealand plant known as ponga, whose leaves curl in on themselves to form a spiral, served as inspiration for the design of this piece. According to the appearance, the Heart is made of ” pounamu,” a type of jade that is regarded sacred by the Maori people.

Breath of Life and the Hongi

Moana fearlessly presses her forehead on the massive brow of the fire demon Te Ka, therefore restoring Te Fiti to her rightful identity. This gesture is much more than just a physical contact; it is also symbolic. It has a connection to an important Maori custom known as thehongi. When two individuals push their foreheads and noses together, the hongi is a traditional Maori greeting that serves as a ceremonial handshake. During the hongi, the ha, or breath of life, is transferred and intertwined with the other participants.

Maui’s Identity Crisis

Maui is a demigod and hero character in Polynesian mythology and religion–two distinct but occasionally overlapping things–who is sometimes entirely divine or totally human depending on the circumstances. In honor of him, the Hawaiian island of Maui was named after him.


I previously stated that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a perfect representation of Maui. Maui’s character benefited greatly from his abilities. And it’s possible that Maui was simply too much of The Rock, because he’s a very different version of the demigod from conventional conceptions. He is a far cry from the typical portrayal of him as a dashing, slender young man, as seen by his huge, muscular tattooed physique. More of a surfer man than a professional wrestler. Some people have responded badly to this interpretation, claiming that it is too close to preconceptions of Pacific Islanders as being disproportionately large in stature.


Maui’s place in legend is bolstered by his being a minor character. Maui was the youngest of his siblings and was known as a trickster. He’s the Loki of Polynesian mythology, wily and cunninger than the rest of them. I don’t believe his enormous physical appearance in the picture does anything to convey that message. The tattoos that cover Maui’s powerful and gigantic physique create the idea that he is above all a warrior, which is supported by the stories that are told via his tattoos. It’s true that Maui is a powerful man; after all, he was the one who lifted the Hawaiian islands from the bottom.

All of the heroic exploits he tells Moana about were truly carried out by him, but not alone.

He was a devoted husband and father.


One of the few ways Moana contributes to the development of Maui’s character is by telling him about his terrible, but ambiguous, past. Because his human parents rejected him at birth, Maui is always attempting to establish himself as a member of the human race by his incredible exploits. I was thrown into the water after they took one glance at me, says the author. Maui was elevated to demigod status by the gods as a result of this event. This certainly contributes to understanding Maui’s objectives, but when compared to conventional legend, the narrative appears to be a touch backward.

  1. For a Greek analogy, consider the stories of Persephone and Hades.
  2. Taranga was distraught and decided to abandon her stillborn son in the water.
  3. As a result, the spirits of the water took care of Maui until he was strong enough to be returned to his parents.
  4. However, there was no explanation provided as to why his human parents allegedly threw him into the water, which left onlookers scratching their heads in bemusement.

In the event that viewers are as inquisitive as I was, they will quickly discover that there is no underlying explanation for the story other than Disney rehashing ancient myths.

Tattoos: an Animated and Spiritual Force

Tattoos orpe’a on Maui are an animated marvel that assisted in demonstrating, rather than simply recounting, Maui’s illustrious history of numerous exploits for the benefit of mankind. He represents a significant aspect of Polynesian culture by having tattoos at all, let alone widely displayed. Tattoo is a Polynesian term, and it is thought that tattoos represent a person’s spiritual life power, also known as mana. They convey a person’s personality and aid in the retrieval of spiritual power and protection for the individual.

Tattooing is done with black ink made from candlenut soot, a tiny mallet, and a sharp piece of bamboo in the traditional manner, which is still practiced today.

Moana Finding It’s Way

Throughout the film, Moana rediscovers the art of navigating, which is important to the cultural and historical story of Polynesia. As with Moana’s forefathers, the people of Polynesia were voyagers, and this is still true today. Ancient Polynesians went to the open ocean 3,000 years ago and populated the islands they discovered, reaching as far as South America before European explorers could reach there. They accomplished this by the use of technology such as that seen in the video, voyaging canoes, and navigation by the stars, as illustrated in the film.

According to Moana’s timeline, this may have been the point at which Te Fiti’s heart was taken and the water became dangerously dangerous.

Disney’s Determined Research

Regardless of whether Disney was successful or unsuccessful in appropriately expressing Polynesia, filmmakers John Musker and Ron Clements cannot be criticized for not attempting to represent the region. While working on Moana, the team established the Oceanic Trust, an advisory group comprised of anthropologists, local cultural practitioners, historians, linguists, and choreographers from all around Polynesia who provided guidance on the film’s development. Because cultural heroes, customs, and even artifacts considered sacred by Polynesian people were crucial to Moana’s narrative, Disney wanted to make sure that everything was done correctly the first time around.

In practice, however, this is not the case.

However, when taking stories that are so close to a culture’s whole narrative and reworking them for mass consumption, it’s easy to see how the indigenous peoples who are ostensibly being represented would be frustrated or even insulted by the results.

Because LiloStitch, a narrative that was probably more centered on aliens than local peoples, left Polynesians with a terrible taste in their mouths, Polynesian viewers were first wary of the film.

It’s hard to accurately describe anything, but Disney did the best it could while making a film that even those who had never heard of Polynesia could enjoy without having to Google it.

She works as a graphic designer, video editor, podcast host, visual effects artist, and most importantly, a writer through her company, Byte. Daley accomplishes this via the lens of exploring the influence pop culture has on our daily life.

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