Bringing Disney’s “Moana” Back Home

Nov 24, 2016

Early art concept.
Credit Disney
Aaron and Jordan Kandell with The Rock (Note: Names may not be in correct order).
Credit Sukee Chew

Disney’s movie “Moana” has opened in theaters following a wave of both praise and controversy.

The story follows an adventurous teenager who sails across the pacific on a mission to save her people. Along the way she meets the demigod Maui and discovers her identity.

Hawai‘i born twins Jordan and Aaron Kandell are part of the team of five writers that brought the story to life.  Aaron Kandell says their local roots helped to provide cultural insights into the design of the story.  His training on an early crew of the Hokulea helped to provide the background of the canoe in the film… and the details go right down to the twist of the ropes that are depicted in the movie.

The release was overshadowed by public outcry… when a Halloween costume depicting the Maui character was pulled for stereotyping Polynesians.  Jordan Kandell says the twins were one of the first people to warn Disney about the costumes.  He adds that Disney marketing immediately pulled the product… and issued a public apology as well as a personal apology to the writers.

Disney’s “Moana” is now playing in theaters across the islands.