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Moana is Keeping Two Polynesian Languages Alive!

Firstly, if you haven’t seen Moana yet, I highly recommend it. I just watched the (Latin American) Spanish version yesterday and I loved it as much as I love The Lion King series and the first Mulan movie. But did you know you can also watch it in two Polynesian languages?

Disney officially dubbed Moana in Maori, the native language of New Zealand with about 125,000 native speakers, and Tahitian, a French Polynesian language with about 68,000 native speakers. With the movie distributed in those areas, how was the reception of the film to the natives of the cultures of Polynesia?

First we review Tahitian responses (link to “How far I’ll go” in Tahitian here)

Response to Moana in Tahitian

Now what does the Maori think of the movie? (Link to “How far I’ll go” in Maori, for comparison, here)

Response to Moana in Maori

Do you have an interest in these two gems of languages? Maybe another Polynesian language like Hawaiian or Tagalog? What do you think about Disney’s linguistic conservation efforts?

And, a little off topic, is anyone appreciating that they are making other independent Disney “princesses” (because frankly not all of them are actually princesses, like Mulan) in later years?

P.S; it turns out that number is 3, thanks calduche for sharing the fact they are going to dub Moana in Hawaiian!

March 1, 2018



Funny thing, Moana is what got me started on Hawaiian. That movie is why I have been learning it (and teaching it). I love Hawaiian and think it's an amazing language that is going into extinction with the scarce amount of speakers.

March 1, 2018


Considering all the tourism of Hawaii. I'm surprised by how rare it is to come across anyone whose actually interested in learning the language.


Grew up in Hawaii myself, on one of the most 'native' islands; the reason why tourists don't learn Hawaiian is because most, if not everyone in Hawaii speaks English, and you will very rarely find things in Hawaiian. It is very difficult to find resources for learning fluent Hawaiian here, even if you wanted to. There aren't very many books to immerse you in the language that you can easily find, movies and shows don't get dubbed into Hawaiian, even the mere sound of a Hawaiian native speaking it in public is rare.

There are no advertisements in Hawaiian as it is impossible for most to read them. The last hope they really have is re-teaching it to children, which didn't work with me as I forgot all the Hawaiian I knew by the time I started high school since... well, as said before, nobody practices it. There are also some college courses for it.

In short, Hawaiian itself is so rare that even many Hawaiian natives will still give you a confused look if you try to speak it to them. So many tourists don't bother with it, which may explain lack of interest in Hawaiian. Would be nice if they "re-activated" the language, so to speak, but it would be very difficult and require tons of awareness campaigns, as well as a complete reform of the language education system in school. Cooperation from the public is another thing (recruiting people to learn it) but, to put this lightly, Hawaiian residents are kind of notorious for being very laid-back (and just lazy, don't even ask me about how badly many people run their systems around here) so it is unlikely they would take the effort to learn a language.


Hopefully Hawaiian can make a comeback like Hebrew did and the Celtic languages are doing. Same with the other Polynesian languages. It’s a little disappointing that Hawaii has become a tourist hub that waters down so much of the original culture.


Wow, it's dying quicker than I expected. Well, thank you for sharing LasCicatrices.


No problem, it's great that you're learning and teaching it so it doesn't die off completely! :)


I knew it wasn't commonly spoken, but not to such an extent as explained by you. Poor Hawaiian language, I hope better for it.


My good friend’s DIL is Hawaiian, so I’m thinking of trying to learn that, now. I Love Duolingo!


The Hawaiian version of Moana is finally on its way!


As a Polynesian languages enthusiast I welcome Disney's initiative to dub the film in various minority languages of the Pacific region :)


Thank you for sharing! It’s very exciting to see that Disney wants to keep these cultures alive.


I've never seen a Hawaiian dub before as someone who grew up in Hawaii, so this will surely be interesting! I have admittedly never seen Moana completely (I watched the first half of it) as I very rarely watch Disney movies. Also, when I was younger and the movie was first announced, I wanted to boycott it because the girl who voiced in it went to a racist and discriminatory very well-known school in Hawaii. Immature of my part, I know.

Also, the light American accents are very clear in the video when they were doing the Hawaiian dubbing (except for the music part), so it seems kind of funny and sweet to watch at the same time. Not bad at all, just entertaining, and I would watch that. Sounds very exotic and sweet, like in Coco when the English language and Latin culture mixed and you could hear their exotic accents in English. I don't know how to explain this, LOL.


...I wrote a whole essay on why Moana is better than Frozen....


So awesome that Disney's promoting social good


Although I don't like Disney princess movies (except for Mulan, please watch it plz plz plz plz), Moana was a pretty cool flick. I had no idea that Moana was translated into those Polynesian languages.


The Mandarin and Cantonese versions of Mulan are incredible!


This is great, and I'm so excited to see it translated into Hawaiian. I've been listening to the soundtrack in Maori on Spotify for months. How does one actually go about getting the dubs for this and other Disney films?


I hope the Hawaiian people will keep their language alive. <3

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