In 2016, Disney introduced us to its first Polynesian princess — Moana of Motunui. Moana was the daughter of the Chieftain, and descended from an ancient tribe of voyagers. However, the tribe had not traveled off the island for years and was now suffering, since the demigod Maui stole the heart of Te Fiti. Moana decided to break tradition, venture off on her own, and save her island by restoring the heart of Te Fiti. The story of Disney’s first Polynesian princess was a hit, making more than $600 million at the box office, and receiving multiple award nominations and wins.
Moana was voiced by newcomer — and native Hawaiian — Auli’i Cravalho, who was just 16 years old when she blew audiences away with her stunning voice. Since first voicing Moana in 2016, the actress has voiced her several more times, but also moved on to star in major films and television shows, like Rise, The Little Mermaid Live!, Elena of Avalor, and Darby and the Dead.
Cravalho is now 22, and taking a big step in embracing her culture and ancestry. On February 24, Cravalho shared that she had gotten a kakau, which is a traditional Hawaiian tribal tattoo. Cravalho shared pictures of her new tattoo on Instagram, along with why it means so much to her.
I am so proud and grateful to be carrying this kakau (tattoo); truly feeling more whole. As I spend more and more time away from home, having my Mauna Kea, manu, and nihotaniwha remind me of what really matters. If you know the feeling, the deep cultural knowledge in your na’au (belly) that roots your identity, then you may empathize with just how important this is to me. @renatakarena10, cousin from across the sea, mahalo ā nui for your talent and dedication to this uniquely stunning, hand drawn piece. Every centimeter rich with kauna + manaʻo. Please check out @renatakarena10’s page to see even more kakau, and visit him in NZ!!!! ❤️🙏🏼 Also a quick nod of appreciation to indigenous cousins who publicly wear their kakau and inspire me by doing so: @quannah.rose, @oriinz, @prideofgypsies #KuKiaiMauna
For those from the Pacific Islands, tattoos are more than just pretty pictures inked onto their bodies. The various symbols used in the tattoos can tell stories of their culture and family. The symbols can also reveal things that are important to the person, along with embracing their heritage. Cravalho’s fans flooded the actress’s Instagram, complimenting the beautiful work, with others thanking her for sharing something so personal with the masses.
If you would love to see Cravalho revise her role as the princess of Motunui, then I have good news for you! Disney is currently working on a musical Moana series. We don’t know when the series will air, but we can’t wait! Cravalho will also be playing Janis Ian in the film Mean Girls The Musical, which is based on the hit Broadway play.