In 2016, Walt Disney Animation Studios produced Moana – a fictional story that finds its roots in the history and heritage of Polynesian islands, such as Hawaii, Tahiti, Tonga, and Samoa. The movie quickly caught the attention of a wide audience, enchanted by visually striking scenery, catchy and beautiful melodies, and an incredible mythical adventure. The story revolves around Moana, the village chieftain’s daughter, who sets off on a voyage to find the demigod Maui and help him restore the heart of Te Fiti.
The theory behind why Te Fiti looks like Moana can be explained by analyzing the subtle traces and the deeper, underlying notion that extends throughout the movie. Moana’s ancestors are believed to be the descendants of the one chosen by Te Fiti, aka the demigod of Te Fiti. According to the legend being passed from generation to generation, there was only the ocean in the beginning. Then, Te Fiti, the Mother Island, emerged, whose heart can create life itself, and Te Fiti shared it with the world. This symbiosis is what maintains and holds all life, and it is reflected in Maui, the demigod of the wind and sea, voyaging with Moana, the one chosen by Te Fiti.
While there aren’t any explicable statements in the movie that would support this theory, it is brimming with hints and clues that would indicate the Yin and Yang of this world are the ocean and Te Fiti, which maintain a state of homeostasis and harmony. With the Heart of Te Fiti stolen, the ocean was filled with demons and monsters who searched for it. They chased away the fish and spread darkness, draining life from island to island. This state could only be mended if the two sides of a cin, the ocean and Te Fiti, were once again united in harmony. Here is our analysis of this theory!
If Moana is a demigod of Te Fiti, why did the ocean choose her?
Let us begin by tackling this rather obvious question that seemingly dismisses the said theory. As we see at the very beginning of the movie, the ocean “behaved” differently when Moana came in touch with it that day.
In a scene where she splits the water around her as she walks further through the shallows, which is quite a Biblical reference indicating someone chosen by God, we can immediately assume this is a special occurrence.
Ever since, she has been drawn to the ocean, desiring to go beyond the reef and see more of its beauty. The only soul who seems to understand her inner voice is her grandmother, aka “the village crazy lady,” as she put it on one occasion, who always danced with the water and nurtured their heritage.
However, Maui is the demigod of the wind and sea, which would make him “the ocean’s champion” and one element of the aforementioned Yin and Yang. He created islands, gave the people coconuts, and spread the magic of life across the ocean. The other one that is needed in order to sustain life and harmony is Te Fiti, whose chosen one is Moana.
For the final piece, we should recall the moment when Maui stole the Heart of Te Fiti. This act gave birth to a terrible darkness, a demon of earth and fire – Te Ka. The horrifying creature attacked Maui, but it could not touch the water. However mighty the demon was, the ocean seemed to be perilous for it.
A fact that was reaffirmed when the final battle against Te Ka reached its climax, and Moana had once again split the ocean for Te Ka to have land to walk on and reach her. And finally, it was Moana who realized that Te Ka was, in fact, Te Fiti. Much like her ancestors were there to open her eyes to who she is, Moana did the same for Te Ka, aka Te Fiti.
What makes Moana a descendant of the demigod of Te Fiti?
If we were to compare Maui and Moana, an imminent observation is that Moana doesn’t possess any kind of supernatural powers. Since the ocean is its own entity or a kind of deity, it could be assumed that it can recognize that she belongs to the lineage which has a powerful connection to Te Ka.
However, we could always see her running and jumping around, exhibiting greater agility and even greater strength. Moreover, if Moana was nothing but a mere human, how could she demand of a demigod to board her boat, sail across the sea and restore the Heart of Te Fiti to stop the darkness from bringing any more death?
For the next clue, we will follow the lineage of chieftains. All the way to the voyagers we see when Moana goes into the cave where the boats are hidden. For starters, her grandmother seemed to know all about the legends and myths passed down through the generations. Even as she reappears on Moana’s boat after they failed to restore the heart, she tells her granddaughter that she “should never have put so much on her shoulders.”
All of which indicates that Moana’s grandmother was the previously chosen descendant of the demigod of Te Fiti. Perhaps we may even assume that she tried or wanted to save the islands herself, but the ocean chose Moana for this task. Moreover, the pattern on the Heart of Te Fiti appears as a recurring symbol throughout the movie.
To lock onto this theory further, we want to point out the necklace the grandmother wore until she died. The blue pendant happened to be of the precise shape and size to hold the Heart of Te Fiti.
Moreover, we see the voyager wearing the same necklace in the flashback and leading his people toward new discoveries. As stated, Maui, the demigod of the wind and sea, gave the people islands. Then, the ones chosen by Te Fiti guided people to these islands and settled to build homes for their families while all remained connected by the vast ocean.
This necklace was never worn by Moana’s father, even though he was the village chieftain. It was passed down to Moana as the next chosen one in the lineage. This act of passing the beacon was done with incredible subtlety, yet in such a beautiful manner, where her grandmother’s passing marked Moana’s complete ascension as the demigod of Te Fiti.
Even when the voyager, who we first saw in the vision in the cave, appears again along with the spirit of her grandmother in order to help guide Moana to the right path, he looks at her and slightly bows his head while holding onto the pendant. This gesture can surely be recognized as acknowledging Moana for who she is and encouraging her not to run away from it.
Finally, at the end of the movie, as Moana says goodbye to Maui, she asks him to stay and guide the people as a master wayfinder. Maui simply responded with, “They already have one,” and showed a new tattoo on his chest that was a representation of Moana, standing right beside the tattooed character of himself. When they said their final goodbyes, they did so as each other’s equals. Maui, the demigod of the wind and sea, and Moana, the descendant of the demigod of Te Fiti.
How is this for a game of clues? With gorgeous animation and memorable songs, this subtle way of conveying the underlying message makes this movie all the more charming.