Moana meets the East Coast

MOANA AND MAUI: The te reo Maori version of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Moana stays true to the original but the Moana musical experience is deepened with linguistic features specific to Te Whanau a Apanui and Ngati Porou, says musical director Rob Ruha.
Picture by Disney

TAIRAWHITI reo was central to the Matewa Media’s Maori language version of Disney’s musical fantasy-adventure film Moana, says Wharekahika (Hicks Bay) born musician Rob Ruha.

Ruha was musical director of the te reo version of the 3D computer-animated movie that tells the story of a strong-willed Polynesian girl who is chosen by the ocean to reunite a mystical relic with a goddess. When a blight strikes her island, Moana sets sail in search of the demigod Maui in the hope of saving her people.

The te reo version stays true to the original “domestic” version, and the original music score was retained, but inclusion of this region’s Maui story, jokes and navigational knowledge in the movie was welcomed wholeheartedly, says Ruha.

“Words, phrases, jokes, slang and pronunciation specific to Te Whanau a Apanui and Ngati Porou made up the reo Maori script and translations for the songs.

“Where appropriate, local phrases and words were used, colloquial pronunciation and approaches to vocal performance of the kupu (speaking) and matauranga (knowledge), like star names, were used to deepen the Moana musical experience.”

Disney is not familiar with Maori humour but Matewa Media managed to fold that into the film.

“I think audiences will feel quite at home with the jokes and nuances in there.”

Matewa Media sees the te reo version of Moana as way to help normalise te reo and will be another tool in the “reo Maori normalisation” tool kit.

“If there was ever an incentive to make te reo Maori a core subject in New Zealand schools, surely the opportunity to work with one of the worlds biggest animated feature film giants is a good one.”

A free te reo Maori version of Moana will be screened at the Odeon Theatre on September 16.

TAIRAWHITI reo was central to the Matewa Media’s Maori language version of Disney’s musical fantasy-adventure film Moana, says Wharekahika (Hicks Bay) born musician Rob Ruha.

Ruha was musical director of the te reo version of the 3D computer-animated movie that tells the story of a strong-willed Polynesian girl who is chosen by the ocean to reunite a mystical relic with a goddess. When a blight strikes her island, Moana sets sail in search of the demigod Maui in the hope of saving her people.

The te reo version stays true to the original “domestic” version, and the original music score was retained, but inclusion of this region’s Maui story, jokes and navigational knowledge in the movie was welcomed wholeheartedly, says Ruha.

“Words, phrases, jokes, slang and pronunciation specific to Te Whanau a Apanui and Ngati Porou made up the reo Maori script and translations for the songs.

“Where appropriate, local phrases and words were used, colloquial pronunciation and approaches to vocal performance of the kupu (speaking) and matauranga (knowledge), like star names, were used to deepen the Moana musical experience.”

Disney is not familiar with Maori humour but Matewa Media managed to fold that into the film.

“I think audiences will feel quite at home with the jokes and nuances in there.”

Matewa Media sees the te reo version of Moana as way to help normalise te reo and will be another tool in the “reo Maori normalisation” tool kit.

“If there was ever an incentive to make te reo Maori a core subject in New Zealand schools, surely the opportunity to work with one of the worlds biggest animated feature film giants is a good one.”

A free te reo Maori version of Moana will be screened at the Odeon Theatre on September 16.

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