The te reo Māori language version of Disney's hit movie Moana has hit the big screens in Aotearoa this week, with some of the cast and crew marking the occasion by embarking on their own waka experience in Tāmaki Makaurau.

The Aotearoa premier of Moana was held on Monday at Sylvia Park, but before hitting the red carpet, a group from the movie were invited on board a real waka with a master navigator.

Waka Quest’s Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr, the captain of the oceangoing waka Haunui, gave the group a tour of the traditional Māori voyaging canoe, and shared his experiences of traditional sailing and navigation using the stars.

Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED) facilitated the session as part of its activity around Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week, and as a way of showcasing some of Tāmaki Makaurau’s cultural tourism offering.

The members of the Moana Reo Māori cast were also joined by winners of an online song competition run in conjunction with Air New Zealand.

Hoturoa Barclay-Kerry says he hopes that the film will spark a desire for people to seek out places such as the Auckland Maritime Museum and the sailing waka experiences to learn more about New Zealand’s rich sailing history and Māori culture.

“I want our youth to be passionate about this movement; the stories and the songs, so they aren’t lost like others have been,” he says.

“So they hear about these canoes crossing the Pacific Ocean from one side to the other, and they hear that they aren't just stories but factual accounts from our ancestors."

Piripi Taylor, who’s the te reo voice of Māui, and Jaedyn Randell, 16, from Tokoroa, who was cast as the voice behind the young Polynesian princess, Moana, were part of the Disney group taking part in the experience.

"He mea nui te pūmau, te tautoko tonu i ēnei taonga tuku iho a kui mā, a koro mā, kia kite ai wā tātou tamariki i ngā hua e puta ana i ērā mahi,” says Taylor.

[Translation: “It's important that we hold fast to these treasures that have been passed down from our ancestors, so that our children can see the great things that result from these practices.”]

For Jaedyn Randell the experience has given her a greater understanding of the journey of her ancestors and the story she’s been telling as the voice of Moana.

“It’s been awesome to learn about the waka, and after voicing the movie, being able to now put it all together with the information we have learned through Hoturoa.”

ATEED General Manager – Destination, Steve Armitage, says: “ATEED, on behalf of Auckland Council, has been working closely with many of Auckland’s Māori tourism operators, like Waka Quest, to further develop Auckland’s cultural experiences.

“Over the past few years in particular, Auckland’s Māori tourism operators have successfully carved out their own unique cultural offering and put the region on the map as a destination where visitors are able to experience Māori culture.”

Anika Forsman
Senior Communications Advisor
Contact Anika