I’m so proud of Disney’s Team of Researchers when it came to making Moana, because it made me, a proud Polynesian girl feel relatable to a Disney character. Now Polynesia consist of many islands, each with their own unique style. I thought it would be nice to share some of the elements used in Moana from my own Polynesian culture, the Maori culture, so that Moana fans can understand the significance or just something new.
Te Fiti’s Heart
This Spiral Pattern is known as a ‘Koru’ and can be found in many types of Maori Art including: Carvings, Jewellery, Tattoos and Paintings. It is inspired by a plant native to New Zealand known as ‘Ponga’ or ‘The Silver Fern’.
Her Heart is also inspired by a rock precious to our people called ‘Pounamu’ or ‘Green stone’ which is a variant of Jade. We use it mainly for Jewellery nowadays but it was also used to make weapons back in the day.
A Hongi is a traditional greeting and farewell used by Maori people by pressing noses. It symbolises exchanging the breath of life to one another.
Moana uses the Hongi several times in the movie but her Hongi with Te Fiti seems like the most important and special to me.
Moana’s Necklace is made out of a Abalone Shell which we call ‘Paua’ and can be found throughout many countries around the world, however the featured shell here is a type you find in New Zealand once you polish back its nacre. The shell is used in our arts including: Carvings and Jewellery.
There are so many more elements used in this movie from the other Polynesian Islands that I cannot name but hopefully someone else can add to this post to share our beautiful and rich cultures.