'Moana' is in 45 languages. Now, Disney is adding Hawaiian to the list

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "Moana" star Aulii Cravalho is home — lending her voice to a project near and dear to her heart.

Cravalho, along with 22 other voice actors from Hawaii, are bringing new life to the Hawaiian version of the animated adventure.

It's the first time that Disney has dubbed a movie in Hawaiian.

"Yes, it was an absolute honor be the first film to be recorded for Disney in 'Olelo Hawai'i," Cravalho said. "That is amazing and I'm so proud of it."

Some 100 pages of script and 10,000 words were translated. Cravalho has been rehearsing and recording under the eyes and ears of several language experts who've carefully handled the translation.

"I think Hawaiian is a beautiful language. I think not many people know it," she said. "So I think we really need to show it out to the world."

"To me, it was as huge undertaking with huge value," said Puakea Nogelmeier, the director of the University of Hawaii and Manoa Institute of Hawaiian Language Research. Nogelmeier said it was important to get it right.

"Not just accurate, but pono, because that's better that accurate," he said. "It's appropriate. It's fitting. So that's what we aimed for."

U.H. Manoa student Kaipulaumakaniolono Baker takes over from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the demigod Maui.

"I was pretty stoked to get the role because you figure out of, whatever they said, 143 whatever applicants, I was like the number one dude, I guess," he laughed.

While he had fun with the role, Baker also were aware of the importance of using the language, which he learned in Hawaiian immersion school. He also noted this week's controversy over the use of Hawaiian language in the courtroom, in which Judge Blaine Kobayashi issued an arrest warrant for Maui professor Samuel Kaleikoa Kaeo after he addressed the judge in Hawaiian.

"The whole production being in 'Olelo Hawai'i really legitimizes the status of 'Olelo Hawai'i, especially if you're looking at what happened on Wednesday with Kumu Kaleikoa Kaeo on Maui," said Baker.

"It sort of reinforces the fact that at this point in time, for us the language is not just decorational any more. It is functional," said U.H. Manoa graduate student Paige Okamura, who was on the team that reviewed the translations.

The project is being produced by the University of Hawaii Academy for Creative Media.

Already recorded in 45 other languages, this version of "Moana" will be a tool for educating and promoting the Hawaiian language around the world.

The new version is slated to premiere in summer 2018.

"Everyone is putting their heart and soul into this, and it's great to see it come together," said Cravalho.

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