12 Jun 2017

Moana in Māori a great chance for te reo renewal

7:06 pm on 12 June 2017

Māori language advocates and parents are looking forward to a reo Māori version of the Disney film Moana.

Disney's Moana

Disney's Moana features a Polynesian princess and the demigod Maui Photo: supplied

The popular animated movie tells the tale of a young Polynesian woman who navigates the Pacific Ocean in a bid to save her island.

The Disney film has been seen countless times by Auckland mum Tiffany Caine and her daughter Maddison.

She said it was exciting to think that her daughter, who loves the film, would now be able to listen to it in te reo Māori.

"In my generation, we weren't able to grow up with those types of resources. I'm proud that Maddison will be singing Māori and Pacific songs."

Ms Caine said she knew the new version would help Maddison with her reo and said the film will normalise Māori culture.

Gisborne mother of two Rina Thornicroft said the film would celebrate te reo on a global scale.

"Anything that promotes te reo and anything that has an international connection to it is always a good thing in terms of raising the profile of our language," she said.

"Our children will see that our culture is part of a global community of films and stories as well."

Amba Holly Te Ngoungo is throwing her hat in the ring to fill the lead role.

Amba Holly Te Ngoungo

Amba Holly Te Ngoungo. Would-be Moanas are being asked to send in an audition tape by Thursday. Photo: Supplied / Facebook

The 25-year-old mother from Waikato won the Waiata Māori Music award for Best Female Solo Artist last year.

She said her kids have played the movie many times and she now knows the lyrics off-by-heart.

"I don't think I'll need much preparation because I've been forced to learn all the words at home," she said.

"It is a really cool opportunity not only for me as a musician, but for the revitalisation of our reo."

The film, released in November last year, came under fire for its portrayal of Pacific culture and identity, including that the character Maui reinforced negative stereotypes about Polynesian obesity.

Dr Wayne Ngata

Wayne Ngata said it was important to put "language out into the domains that people engage with." Photo: RNZ / Laura Bootham

But chair of the Māori Language Commission, Wayne Ngata, dismissed the critics, saying the prospect of a Disney film being released in te reo Māori was a good thing.

"Part of ensuring that a language is living is about putting the language out into domains that people engage with," he said.

"The important thing to appreciate is that the language is being utilised in those spaces."

Would-be Moanas are being asked to send an audition tape to the casting company Adrenalin Group by Thursday 15 June with recording taking place by the end of the month.

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