Disney’s hit film from November 2016 was the story of Moana, a film that centers around a Polynesian princess, her journey of self-discovery, and her companion Maui. Moana was released earlier this month in the native language of New Zealand, Māori.
The idea to translate the original English script into that of Māori came from Taika Waititi, a New Zealand director and writer, who wrote the initial screenplay for Moana (though he is uncredited). The Thor: Ragnarok director approached Disney early on about translating the film and in the end, his sister Tweedie Waititi, wound up serving as producer for the translated Māori version that graced 30 New Zealand screens.
In the wake of the release, there is a hope that dubs in Māori will rekindle interest in a language that many worry is on the verge of dying out. By dubbing films like Moana in the indigenous language, many hope that interest in learning and speaking the language will stay alive.
In a New York Times article, Haami Piripi, a former head of government in New Zealand, had this to say regarding the dubbed film: “The language has got to be made cool and sexy and relevant to young people, and this movie is the perfect way to make that happen.” Piripi hopes that, especially for younger people, being able to see popular movies they enjoy in the Māori language will capture their interest.
There was also a familiar face and voice present during the production process for the Māori version. Rachel House, who voiced Gramma Tala in the English release of Moana, served as the performance director for the production and voiced Gramma Tala once more in Māori. Her reaction to the translated film was one of excitement in a New York Times piece: “I’ve been on a very slow journey with the language for years, and now I feel like I can sit back and really enjoy the film, and experience the learning tool that it represents.”
Overall, the release of Moana in Māori has had many positive reactions from moviegoers and the people who made the translation possible. It’s fantastic to see a film whose focus is on Polynesian culture finally be released in a Polynesian language, spanning further enjoyment and hopefully further interest in the Māori language.
- STAR WARS REBELS Recap: (S04E08) Crawler Commanders - November 9, 2017
- STAR WARS REBELS Recap: (S04E07) Kindred - November 7, 2017
- STAR WARS REBELS Recap: (S04E06) Flight of the Defender - November 2, 2017