The Ancient Story of Te Fiti and Her Stolen Heart

Baby Moana

Moana as a baby, when she discovers the heart of Te Fiti in the form of the stone of pounamu

After Te Fiti, an island goddess created all life, she became an island while her heart became a small pounamu stone. This stone was then stolen by the demigod, Maui (Dwayne Johnson) who wants to harness its power, but is confronted by lava demon, Te Kā and in the tussle that ensues, the heart becomes lost in the ocean along with Maui’s magical fishhook. Well, until Moana Waialiki (Auli’i Cravalho), the daughter and heir of a chief on the small pacific island of Motunui discovers it while collecting shells near the ocean.

The Darkness of the Stolen Heart Is Unleashed

When fish become scarce and coconuts begin to spoil, Moana proposes going beyond the reef to find more fish, but her father Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison) angrily rejects her request. He tells her that sailing beyond the reef is forbidden, but the real truth is that he is haunted by a bad sailing experience from his childhood which resulted in the death of his best friend.

RACHEL HOUSE (“Whale Rider,” “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”) voices GRAMMA TALA, Moana’s confidante and best friend, who shares her granddaughter’s special connection to the ocean. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Tala, Moana’s grandmother

Moana’s grandmother Tala (Rachel House) finds Moana on the beach after a failed attempt to sail past the reef and tells her the ancient story of Te Fiti, her heart, and the demigod Maui. She shows Moana a secret cave hidden behind a waterfall which contains a fleet of sailing canoes. For a successful trip, Tala gives Moana the heart of Te Fiti (now in the form of a stone), and shows her how the darkness unleashed by Maui’s theft is now consuming the island and threatening its livelihood, explaining how all will be well again when the heart is returned.

Moana Sets Sail

Moana sets sail with Heihei

Moana sets sail with Heihei

Moana departs with her pet rooster Heihei and she is followed by a manta ray (the reincarnation of her grandmother, Tala, who died just before she set sail). Moana follows a constellation of stars that looks like Maui’s fishhook, but a huge wave caused by a typhoon flips her sailboat and knocks her unconscious. She wakes up the next morning on a small island inhabited by Maui, who distracts her, traps her in a cave, and steals her sailboat. After escaping the cave, Moana tries to convince Maui to return the heart, but he refuses out of fear that other dark creatures will be attracted to its power. 

moana and maui

Moana and Maui set sail for the island of Te Fiti

Maui later agrees to bring the heart back to Te Fiti, but with under one condition – that he would need his hook. But problem is the hook is now hidden in the Realm of Monsters in the hands of a coconut crab named Tamatoa (Jemaine Clement). The two journey to the Realm, where they manage to retrieve the hook by tricking Tamatoa into singing while they escape just in time to their sailboat! 

The Battle On the Island of Te Fiti

moana and maui's fight Te Ka

Moana and Maui fight Te Ka on the island of Te Fiti

They arrive at Te Fiti, where Te Kā appears and tries to destroy them. Maui tries to fight back, but Te Kā is too strong; but just in time, Moana remembers Te Kā’s aversion to water and tries to use this to their advantage. This plan fails because Te Kā is just too strong, and in the scuffle that ensues severely damages Maui’s hook even as he repels their boat out to sea.

This moment is a low time for both Moana and Maui, who tells her that this failure to defeat Te Kā may just be indication that the ocean chose the wrong person to save her people. Moana had just about given up until the spirit of her grandmother, Tala, appears and encourages Moana to find her true calling within herself.

But will Moana heed her dead grandmother’s advise? Will she find the courage within herself to complete the quest and return Te Fiti’s heart so her people’s lives will be better once again? These are certainly questions that this latest movie from Disney asks.