Moana Waialiki (Waialiki Ocean) is the protagonist of Disney's 2016 animated feature film of the same name. Born on the island village of Motunui, Moana is the daughter of Chief Tui and Sina, with an inherited love for the seas and voyaging. When her island becomes endangered, Moana is chosen by the ocean to journey across the sea to save both her people and the world. She is the second Disney Princess after Mulan, not to be born royal neither blood or marriage. She is the twelveth Disney Princess.

Other names

Little Minnow (by Sina) Kid, Curly, Little Girl, Buttercup, Princess, Daughter of the chief, Chosen One (by Maui) Babe (by Tamatoa)


Headstrong, bold, impressionable, daring, good-hearted, heroic, inspiring, curious, intelligent, brave, eccentric, spirited, manipulative, stubborn, impatient, charismatic, sea-loving


Slender, slightly muscular, medium brown skin, brownish-pink lips, long wavy black hair, thick eyebrows, brown eyes


Chief of Motunui




To save her people from destruction and reinvigorate their wayfinder culture (succeeded)




Chief Tui (father) Sina (mother) Gramma Tala † (paternal grandmother) Matai Vasa † (ancestor)


Pua (pig) Heihei (rooster)


Maui, Pua, Heihei, Mini Maui, Ocean, Te Fiti


Te Kā (formerly), Tamatoa, Kakamora


Wayfinding, stories and legends, the sea, sailing, seashells, her family, her village, pork, Maui


Being restricted from the sea, Lalotai, Maui's selfishness, Heihei's clumsiness, rough seas, being referred to as a princess


Her necklace Her canoe The Heart of Te Fiti (temporarily)


Harpoon and oar


Ushers in a new generation of voyagers as Chief of Motunui


"The ocean is a friend of mine."


Moana, as Gramma Tala describes, "stands out from the crowd". She is sea-loving, headstrong, strong-willed, practically fearless, and physically capable. Though she has moments of self-doubt, she has great pride in who she is, and is generally too stubborn to back away from new challenges. Moana approaches new experiences and tasks with the utmost seriousness and will stand her ground to fight for what she values even when all seems lost. She can present herself as an imposing force despite her size and has bested the most fearsome beasts and impossible obstacles across the seas of Oceania while relying almost solely on her own intelligence.

For all her strengths, Moana suffers from major identity crises. Surrounded by a loving family and a supportive community of neighbors, Moana cares a great deal for her people, and the village in which she was born and raised. However, she also has a passionate love for the ocean and the idea of voyaging beyond her home island's barrier reef. At the start of the film, voyaging had been prohibited as a means to keep the people of Motunui safe, but even so, Moana's spirited and tenacious attitude kept her dreams of experiencing life beyond her island alive. At the same time, Moana was happily devoted to her village during her time as chief-in-training. An intelligent and resourceful leader, Moana was quick to remedy any problems her village faced, and was masterful in keeping herself composed and optimistic during times of a crisis. Moana's loyalty towards her family and people actually played a part in her crippling identity crisis. As she cared for them immensely, she occasionally felt extreme guilt for being drawn to the sea, as lamented in her song "How Far I'll Go"; she believed that if she were to pursue the ocean, she would ultimately disappoint the people she loved. Simultaneously, she felt an obligation towards her ancestors, wanting to reinvigorate their ways of wayfinding as a means to honor them and the legacy they left for her people. These conflicted emotions would ultimately act as Moana's greatest challenge throughout the film.

When it was revealed that she had been chosen by the ocean to restore the legendary heart of Te Fiti, Moana did not put her focus on the potentially devastating outcome of her mission, but the unity between her love for Motunui and her dream of voyaging in the tradition of her great ancestors. Though this would ultimately benefit all parties, this mindset is perhaps Moana's greatest flaw. In being heroic and deathly devoted to her goals, Moana can be selfish in that she is willing to endanger the lives of others in order to prove she is capable of confronting her ambitions without fail. Both Tui and Maui confront Moana on this during the events of the film, and though she denied both accusations, she knew - deep down - that this was correct. She can also be reckless with herself in this regard, as she drove herself out to sea without proper training in the ways of wayfinding or even sailing. She fears very little, but because of this, she can occasionally bite off more than she can chew. However, these acts are not done with malicious, or even notable intent. Moana is extremely sympathetic and caring, which drives her to perform life-threatening stunts for what she genuinely believes to be the greater good.

In contrast to this, Moana grows with failure. After Maui refuses to assist her in battling Te Kā following a disastrous first encounter on her account, she works up the courage to redeem herself by facing the lava demon alone. She is also empathetic, and looks to help herself by helping and understanding others first. This is most notably seen when she puts hours worth of focus on coming to understand Maui, and the reasonings behind his own inner-demons. In doing so, she was able to exhibit self-loving wisdom (specifically regarding how one should look inside themselves for strength and guidance, and not in someone else). Moana would later use this to encourage herself during her darkest hour.

As she grew with her adventure, Moana discovered more about herself. She came to realize that no one can define who you are, other than yourself; she was neither meant to be devoted solely to the sea or solely to her people, but to herself. As such, she was able to bring her two loves together, ultimately recreating and honoring what came before her: a unity between her people and the sea.


  • Her name means "ocean" in many Polynesian languages, including Hawaiian and Maori.
  • Animators put a considerable amount of effort into ensuring Moana's hair added to her performance. They did so by developing new software to give the hair a realistic look. They also changed her hairstyle in different scenes, depending on her current action (such as tying her hair in a bun as she sails).[10]
  • In one version of the story, Moana had nine older brothers that left the island. Their sister would eventually journey to rescue them.[11]
  • Moana was designed to have a body that is considerably more realistic than the thinly stylized proportions of previous Disney animated heroines.[12]
  • The jr. novelization gives her age as 16.
  • Moana was, at one point, a secondary character as the film was initially centered around Maui. Moana's story involved going on a mission to save her love interest.[12]
  • The red in Moana's clothing represents her royal heritage as daughter of a chief.[12]
  • Over forty designs were proposed for Moana's necklace. The final appearance was chosen to represent Moana's ties to both the land and sea. The stars on the necklace represent Moana's identity as a navigator.[12]
  • She is the second protagonist of Polynesian descent in a Disney animated feature, the first being Lilo from Lilo & Stitch.
    • During the credits of that movie, one of the photos showed Stitch holding a giant leaf over a sea turtle and its baby the same way Moana did.
  • In some foreign versions of the film (mainly in some countries in Europe), she is renamed Vaiana due to copyright reasons.
  • Moana was originally going to be a playable character in the third installment of Disney INFINITY, but after the series was confirmed to have been discontinued in May 2016, it was implied that Moana was cancelled.[13]
  • At one point, Moana says "You lying, slimy son of a b...!" to Maui while she was stuck in the cave, nearly saying a curse word in the process.
  • In keeping with the tradition of other Disney Princesses, Moana does not have a last name. There are some reports of the last name "Waialiki" having been heard at the original D23 announcement or seen in early promotional material, but no examples have been found to verify this.
    • Writer Jared Bush reported that past iterations of the film had her last name be Waialiki, while others has Motunui, though he wasn't sure on what was ultimately canon.[14]
  • In the reprise of the deleted ballad "More", Moana mentions that Gramma Tala was the one who named her.


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