What Is Moana Race? – The Rich Culture Behind the 12th Disney Princess

What Is Moana Race

The 2016 Disney Movie, Moana was a huge success. The movie charmed both the children and adults alike. While the children may have been mesmerized by the gorgeous and stunning visual prowess of the movie the adults may have found something else that made the movie even better for them. The movie is based on real-life culture, heritage, and traditions and this is what makes Moana very compelling to its viewers. 

Ever since knowing that the things shown in Moana are based on real-life traditions and culture, a few questions arise in the minds of the reader – “What is Moana Race?”, ” Where is Moana From? ” And “What is Moana Culture? “

Before we dive into this let’s talk about the movie and the character and what the plot is

Moana – The Movie

Moana is a 2016 Disney Animated movie. Moana was the 56th Animated feature film from Walt Disney Animation Studios and was directed by John Musker and Ron Clements. The screenplay of the movie was written by Jares Bush, John Musler, Ron Clements, Chris Williams, and Don Hall. 

The film has a stellar cast of Dwayne Johnson, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Scherzinger, Rachel House, Jemaine Clement, and Alan Tudyk. The film also introduced Auliʻi Cravalho who gave the voice to the titular character Moana. The movie also features original songs and music written by Mark Mancina, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Opetaia Foa’i as well as an original score composed by Mark Mancina.

The film grossed over $645 million worldwide and was nominated for the Best-Animated Feature film as well as for the Best Original Song category for the song “How Far I’ll Go” at the 89th Academy Awards.

The Plot

The story of Moana is set 3000 years ago and follows Moana, a brave, strong-hearted daughter of a Polynesian tribe chief. 

In the beginning, the movie shows how the greatest sailors in the world travel across the vast Pacific as they discover the small islands of Oceania until suddenly for a Millenium their exploration was halted.

Many people want to know the answer to “What is Moana Race?”. Let’s understand about Moana first.

Moana is chosen by the ocean to find the goddess Te Fiti and to reunite a mystical relic with her. When her island is stuck by a blight all of a sudden, Moana takes it upon herself and sets sail to find the legendary Demigod, Maui. With the help of Maui Moana attempts to return the relic to the goddess Te Fiti and save the people of her island from the blight.

While the plot is original it does take a lot of inspiration from Polynesian Myths.

Moana – The Character


Moana is the titular character of the 2016 Animated feature film called Moana. Moana was born in the island village called Motunui and is the daughter of the village chief, Chief Tui. Moana’s mother’s name is Sina. She loves the seas and traveling through them which is believed to have been inherited since she is considered to be the direct descendent of a mythical explorer. You might be wondering “What is Moana Race?”, the answer to this lies to her origin. Keep reading to find it.

Moana’s full name in the 2016 Disney movie is Moana Waialiki and the name of the actress who gave voice to the character is Auli’i Cravalho.

Moana is chosen by the ocean as her Island village is threatened by a blight to return a mystical relic to the goddess Te Fiti and save her people.

She is the twelfth addition to the Disney Princess Line up.

Moana is different from all the other Disney Princesses as she is physically strong and muscular as well as extremely courageous and stubborn to achieve what she is set out to do. Moana is strong-willed and fearless and physically capable. She approaches every new task with the utmost seriousness and is determined to succeed at them. 

What is Moana Race? 

Moana Origin
Moana Origin

Moana is set on a fictional island called Motunui in the South Pacific Ocean. While the island may be fictional everything about the island’s stories and culture and heritage is very much based on real-life cultures. 

The heritage and culture shown in the movie are based on the real history and heritage of the various Polynesian Islands like Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, and Hawaii. 

The number of hidden details in the movie about the Polynesian islands is more than what one could imagine. Let’s look at some examples that confirm Moana is of Polynesian descent.

The homes on the islands look very much like the Samoan Fale. Moana’s Canoe which she uses to travel through the sea is based on the ancient canoe built by the Polynesian Islanders to travel through the seas as they were seafarers. The way Moana uses stars for navigation is also very similar to how Polynesians navigated through the oceans.

The tattoos of Maui are also a nod to the way Polynesians Tattoo as well as a nod to Polynesian Culture. Through Maui, the movie also incorporates a lot of Polynesian Stories. The song is sung by Maui and also shows several Polynesian Myths and stories. 

Polynesian names and languages are very evidently present within the movie. Moana’s name itself means Ocean in a variety of Polynesian languages.

The movie talks about how the ancestors of the village suddenly stopped seafaring for a Millenium; the same happens in Polynesian History as well. It was called the Long Pause and Seafarers of the Polynesian Group of Islands stopped Voyaging for nearly 2000 years. The reasons for this are unknown.

So, long story short, “What is Moana Race?”. It’s Polynesian.

Frequently Asked Questions on What Is Moana Race

What ethnicity is Maui from Moana?

Maui from Moana is a Polynesian demigod and therefore his ethnicity is also Polynesian. 

Is Moana Filipino or Hawaiian?

While the story is set on a fictional island in the Pacific Ocean it is confirmed that Moana is of Polynesian Descent. The culture and the story shown in the movie are heavily influenced by the culture and history of various Polynesian islands like Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, and Hawaii.

What ethnicity is Moana?

It is confirmed that Moana is a member of Polynesian descent. The actress who gave voice to Moana is from Hawaii. 

Do Polynesians like Moana?

Many of the people from the Polynesian group of islands were proud and happy to see their rich culture and history being shown in mainstream media so it is safe to say Polynesians do like Moana. However, there could be people within the community who would disagree with the movie. 

Is Moana Hispanic?

Moana is not Hispanic. She is from one of the Polynesian Islands and is of Polynesian Descent.


Although Moana is set in a fictional location the heritage and culture shown in the movie make it clear that Moana is of Polynesian descent thanks to the various clues scattered around the movie along with the very evident link with the Polynesian Culture and Heritage.

Disney has tried to incorporate as much of the heritage of the Polynesian Islands into the movie as possible However, there have been instances where they went wrong as well.

Hopefully, this article has given the reader an answer to “What is Moana Race, Culture, and Heritage?”

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