After the Tahitian version released in April, you will soon be able to watch Moana in the maori language. The crew of the Disney animated movie and local partners announced last week that they found their leading voice actress, and started a Te reo (the maori language) dubbing of Moana this week. It should be released in September of this year, in time for the Maori language week.
The selection process to find the maori voice of the Polynesian princess was quite epic according to stuff.co.nz : “Tweedie (Waititi, who collaborates with Disney for the dub) admitted they almost missed Randell’s tape. After watching the hundreds of auditions, the producers decided to re-watch all 250. On second viewing, they saw Randell. ‘We watched them twice. Accidentally skipped her the first time. Luckily that second decision was made, we almost missed her,’ she said.”
Jaedyn Randell is the 16 years old team who finally got the part. The high-schooler was chosen for her singing voice and her tone of voice resembling that of Auli’i Cravalho, the Hawaiian girl voicing the original Moana. You can meet Jaedyn in this interview by the television channel Kawe Kōrero :
If the success of the Tahitian dub in French Polynesia is any guide, with a dozen public screenings and television runs in a couple of month, this Te reo version should be a massive success in New Zealand. The hope of the partners of Disney creating these versions is to use the wildly popular animated movie to teach the indigenous languages of the Polynesian triangle to the younger generation, and thus stop the slow erosion of native speakers.
Moana is actually the 3rd Disney movie to get a regional dub, after The Lion King translated to Zulu and Mulan, which was the first Disney film to have a Mandarin Chinese dubbing made in China. But these Tahitian and Maori versions seem more important as these two languages are being threaten by a wide adoption of French and English respectively in the two Polynesian communities.