Prof. Parmita Kapadia
January 29, 2018
Beyond the Reef
Moana is a story about the beautiful 16-year-old daughter of a Polynesian chief who wants to explore the world beyond the Pacific and save the people in her village. Moana means ocean and she is chosen by the sea itself to return the stolen heart of Te Fiti, who turns out to be an island deity, or sacred. The heart of Te Fiti is a greenstone that was stolen by the demigod Maui. He sought ownership of the heart for his own purposes for mankind and stole the heart. But after escaping the heart's island, Maui was attacked and in battle against the lava demon Te Kā. During the fight, the heart of Te Fiti was lost. According to legend, if the heart of Te Fiti is not returned to its rightful place, the world will slowly deteriorate and be destroyed. Moana’s Grandma, Tala encourages Moana to follow her own path and to go explore beyond the reef so that she is able to return to stone. She tells Moana that she is the chosen one and she must go return the heart. Moana’s father continually asserts that because she must play a role in being the next island’s leader, and for that she must be on the island. Even though Moana loves being in the island, she wants to go navigate the sea and help her people. The story explains how Moana saves Maui, learns about Polynesian culture, and saves her island.
Grandma Tala tells the story of how the heart of Te Fiti was stolen. She says that the heart shall be returned by someone who will travel beyond the reef, find Maui, and deliver him across the ocean to restore the heart and save everyone in the island. Despite admonitions from her father against anyone going beyond reef, Moana steals a canoe and embarks on her quest.
She must overcome obstacles in order to return the heart of Te Fiti. Moana and Heihei, her pet chicken, set sail. As they sail beyond the reef, a storm erupts. She loses control of her boat and is tipped overboard and into the ocean. Once she wakes up after passing out, she lands on an island where she finds Maui. He explains in his “Your Welcome” song that he has created and delivered many good things to humans, including ‘the tides, the sun, the sky’.
Through Moana’s trip, the Polynesian culture is included into the plot, demonstrating its beauty and intricacy while respecting its origins. The movie includes the traditional Polynesian legend of Maui, a demigod known for his mischievous personality and contributions to mankind. Moana has a collection of Polynesian poems within, including that of three of the better-known authors in this collection and are from the New Zealand or Maori contingent. The Cook Islands, Hawai'i, Niue, Rotuma, Samoa, and Tonga are also represented, unified by English, originally separated...