Disney's 'Moana' generates wave of interest in Hokulea, Polynesian voyaging

Published: Jun. 16, 2017 at 12:09 AM HST|Updated: Jun. 17, 2017 at 5:55 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the Hokulea sailed around the world, she was greeted with colorful welcome ceremonies and cultural exchanges. A few of those exchanges were inspired by Disney's hit film, 'Moana.'

Released last November, the hit animated film depicts a Polynesian Princess and her love for the sea.

Hokulea's apprentice navigator Jenna Ishii saw the "Moana effect" first-hand.

"When we went to Tahiti this last couple of weeks, we arrived in a small village called Mataiea. All of the kids greeted us with a song from the movie Moana in Tahitian," Ishii said. "It happened again when some of our crew sailed into Samoa!"

The movie's most popular song, "How Far I'll Go," was sung for the crew members as a part of celebrations.

Lured by the call of the ocean, the character Moana, discovers her true passion for exploring, just like her ancestors. She eventually learns the lost art of wayfinding which is sailing on the open ocean without the help of navigational tools, and finds her true identity.

In the end, Moana helps reconnect her people with their rich voyaging past. It's similar to the real-life story of Hokule'a.

"I think it's no question. During my generation, Hokule'a was already alive and well, and it was a fact that Polynesians voyaged and navigated and they were the greatest explorers of their time," Ishii said.

The voyage also inspired three young girls from Samoa to learn traditional wayfinding, and they are now on their way to becoming navigators.

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