polynesian island

Hey, y’all! Since Moana came out I’ve been seeing a lot more talk on Pacific Island folk, but a lot of it has been using the terms “Pacific Islander” and “Polynesian” interchangeably. Polynesia is a specific region of the Pacific Islands, while the Pacific Islands consist of the regions Micronesia and Melanesia as well. Much love from your local Micronesian. 🌸🍃

Today I saw Moana, in a theatre in New Zealand

…and what an experience it was. To watch a film in a style so recognisable, admirable, ubiquitous about stories and people that I grew up hearing and being taught about, was truly one of the most emotional experiences in my life. Of course I was crying right from the get go, all the way to the credits.

As I sat and watched the stories woven through my childhood, not just as a New Zealander, but as a Samoan/Maori mix, being told by DISNEY, I was awash with brimming awe. Constantly teetering on the breaking point of tears as I saw the legends of my people being brought to life for all who are reached by the wide stretching arms of Disneys prolific films, to enjoy and become enamoured by.

And I was not alone. The theatre of easily 300 likeminded Kiwis, the majority of which being of Polynesian background, laughed and cried together as we watched familiar stories being told by close to home voices portrayed in the most famous animated style in the world.

So thank you Disney, for this incredible experience you’ve given to the world. Please know how much it means to us in the smallest personal way. Not even about the representation to the masses that this brings. But of the small pride it has given us that in the wide wide world, we have a light that is worth shining.


(Edit: starting off with my sister, the whole theatre clapped too! Which never happens x)
Moana and Resistance Spectating
Nov 23 2016
By Richard Wolfgramm

Moana for us represents many things — harmless entertainment, some might see it as a documentary providing a missing piece in a cultural identity puzzle. Some see Moana in a pedagogical role, a teaching tool that will help others learn more about us. And some of us see Moana as an extension of the Disney moneymaking apparatus and evokes a painful ongoing pattern of colonialism, imperialism, exploitation, homogenization, cultural theft and appropriation in the Pacific.

All are true and problematic all the same.

But there is a danger when we say that we must take one side or the other. This absolutist point of view is divisive, and to unjustly label family and friends employed by Disney or those who work in cultural entertainment as cultural prostitutes is detestable.

The bigger truth is this: we live in a complex age of inevitable consumerism and capitalism. This is the world that is imposed on us, so we occupy this world as involuntary or voluntary participants, as colonized people, in colonial settler roles, as transnationals, and as members of diasporic communities around the world. Capitalism is demanding and unforgiving. Engagement for many of us is out of necessity.

On the flip side, we can also be critical of Disney’s capitalistic aims and side-eye their claims of doing justice to our stories, without having to be dismissed as “haters.”

Ultimately, what saves Disney’s Moana from the shit-show train wreck it could have been is the work of the Oceanic Story Trust and the breakthrough performance of its star, Auli’i Cravalho.


With that said, as we go to the theaters, I hope we will make a conscious choice for just one time, as I know many of us will see it multiple times, to transcend being mindless consumers and become resisting spectators, and recognize that the eye candy we see on the big screen are really just surface, readily accessible manifestations of deep cultural treasures that Disney, nor any outsider, can never touch. These treasures can only be felt by the heart and by our own lived experiences.

And when we see the character of Moana overcoming great odds on the big screen to save her village, even at the risk of losing her own life, we aren’t witnessing anything new that we don’t already know about ourselves — love, sacrifice, determination, resilience, family, reciprocity, conservation and stewardship of the planet are the hallmarks of our rich oceanic culture, values that have existed long before Disney mined our stories, values that can never be replicated in box office ticket and merchandise sales.


So me and one of the dokos from the area have been talking and we know that there’s so many DL Poly guys who gotta stay DL for the obvious reasons. We been starting a plan to create an online confidential space for Gay & Bi Polynesian men to network and speak freely, without judgement and prejudice.

HMU with suggestions or reblog if you are thinking this could be a good idea.

Meeting a new person
  • Me, to myself: ok be chill don't let them know how obsessive and weird you are
  • Me: hi did you know that the crew behind Disney's latest original film, "Moana", did years of research in various Polynesian islands in order to ensure they accurately depicted the culture of the region? Instead of focusing on one island they chose to mix several legends and different versions of ancient stories to create a new perspective that still honored th—

As a Filipino, Moana brought me to tears more than a couple of times with how familiar everything was. I heard that one of the people working on Moana was Pinoy and made many of the characters on the island look like pre-colonial Filipinos and I saw it, it made me so happy

The story of Maui burying a serpent to make a coconut tree, we have almost exactly the same story in the Philippines with Bathala and Ulilang Kaluluwa

The boats, the musical instruments, the importance of coconut trees, the tattooing and its method, even their outfits, the culture shares so many roots with mine that it was like seeing old friends onscreen. It made so happy. 

Moana is so culturally rich and beautriful, you’ll be floored.