Disney’s Moana brought the world of Tiki and Polynesia to the screen with music, laughter, and tears, to delight both the young and young at heart! The phrase “art imitates real life” holds true with this film. This piece of cinematic art holds true to the Tiki culture, and the stories of the Polynesian people, and the movie is based on actual Polynesian legends.
The real-life voyages of the Malama Honua and the worldwide voyage of Hōkūle‘a is the basis for Moana. Moana’s voyage is set to travel and to see that everyone is connected because of the ocean and that our journey on earth is to help each other. What a beautiful idea!
The Polynesian people are known for being peaceful and skilled in the water, among many other things. And unlike some of the stereotype, the movie Moana has shown us the island people are different in many ways. They don’t all wear grass skirts and throw fire. The people of the Pacific Islands have rich histories and traditions.
The first Polynesian Tiki statue dates back to the 13th century and was carved in stone. This originated from the Marquesas Islands. There are more famous statues called the Moai of Easter Island. These are Half man and half god statues and are what we picture in our heads when we think of Tiki statues. These are stocky figures with the arms close to the side. Usually the mouth is open and the eyes are big. There were glimpses of Tiki statues throughout the movie, Moana.
The Polynesian Tiki is a representation of the creator. One who created human beings. The Tiki statues used to be found near sacred places, but now they are sprinkled though out the islands. The Tiki is central to the Polynesian culture. Even today, a Tiki placed outside the home is considered to be a protection for all those inside, and a welcome to all who enter. It is thought to keep bad energies away.
A Polynesian Tiki may be carved from different materials today. Stone is still used, as well as wood, jade, coral, or bone. The carving takes a great deal of patience. Reflective of the Polynesian people, the pace of the carving is not something the craft person finds upsetting. There is a passion and a love for the carving and the creating of something that a person or family is going to love and cherish for perhaps generations. Every Tiki has a different meaning. Some represent strength, love, power, wisdom, wealth, prosperity, health, and others traits.
Now that Moana has made its way to the screen and into our homes, we see the characters and Tiki figures also in plastic. But that’s ok. The kids of today are gaining a rich understanding of Polynesian culture, and adults learned some new facts from the movie, Moana. Disney did a wonderful job of bringing the island beauty and culture to life for us to learn about and enjoy.
It is rumored that The Disney Enchanted Tiki Room plans to add Moana to the longstanding Tiki tradition. This would include Hei Hei, Moana’s side-kick rooster, colors, and music from the movie. Even if Moana does not join the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Tiki of Moana is here to stay.