Moana producer Osnat Shurer and Oceanic Story consultant Hinano Murphy announced in a press conference in Pape‘ete, Tahiti today that Moana will be the very first film to be translated into the Tahitian language!
Murphy commented on the cultural importance of this decision: “Native languages, like Tahitian, are being lost; it is important to find new ways to excite the communities, elders, young adults and children here [in Tahiti] about our language. Hopefully, this will also inspire other Polynesian islanders to find innovative ways to teach their languages. We hope this version will be used as a teaching tool for many decades into the future.”
Inclusion seems to be an important hurdle that Disney is currently facing. With the worry of whitewashing in the new Mulan live-action film and the controversy surrounding the choice to cast Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange, it’s no wonder that inclusion seems to be on Disney’s mind. Earlier this year, Moana‘s trailer gained mixed reviews from Polynesian fans as reported by ABC News, some fearing that Maui’s character is depicted as stereotypically obese.
In this case, however, Disney seems to be making efforts to ensure that inclusion is a priority in their media. Characters with disabilities and women are starring in many Freeform shows, and Disney has already promised an all-Chinese cast for Mulan. This decision to create a Tahitian Moana may indeed be another step in the right direction.
Casting and recording for the Tahitian voices will be taking place within the next few months, and the release date of the Tahitian language version will be announced at a later date.
For now, Tahitian Disney fans can catch Moana for French-speaking audiences on November 30th, 2016, and in the U.S. on November 23, 2016.