Moana: Te reo version of Disney film finds its Maori star
A newsreader and a high school student have picked up main roles in the Maori Moana.
Recording starts this week for the revoiced film, with the Disney fairytale being completely remade in te reo and Hawaiian.
Taika Waititi, who wrote the original Moana script, and his whangai sister Tweedie Waititi had partnered with Disney to dub the blockbuster film.
Tweedie announced this week that they had found their local Moana. Of 250 applications, the New Zealand producers picked a first-time actor for the main role. Jaedyn Randell, a year 12 student from Waikato, would play the part.
This was Randell's first acting job. The 16-year-old Tainui descendant was a "raw musical talent", Tweedie said. In her role, Randell would work alongside music director Rob Ruha and Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords.
Tweedie admitted they almost missed Randell's tape. After watching the hundreds of auditions, the producers decided to re-watch all 250. On second viewing, they saw Randell. "We watched them twice. Accidently skipped her the first time. Luckily that second decision was made, we almost missed her," she said.
Taika and performance director Rachel House launched a search early in June to find a Maori Moana. All of the original New Zealand cast would reprise their roles, including actors Oscar Kightley and Temuera Morrison.
Maori Television newsreader Piripi Taylor would step into Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's shoes as Maui. Tweedie said there was simply no better fit.
Amanda Ashton would play Moana's mother Tui.
Recording kicked off on Monday. All going well, Tweedie said it would be finished in three weeks but there were complications. Taika was working on the project from the US and joined meetings via Skype while Clement recorded his part from Europe.
The Maori dubbed Moana was due to be in cinemas for Maori language week in September.