On December 14, Samoa Voyaging Society (SVS), Conservation International (CI) & Walt Disney Animation Studios, announced a “first-of-its kind” collaboration to bring conservation education to Samoan coastal communities on Okeanos’ traditional double-hulled sailing canoe, the Gaualofa. Through a grant from the Disney Conservation Fund, along with the technical support from CI and the Samoan government, SVS Captain Fani Bruun and her crew will visit communities on the Gaualofa to host free screenings of Disney’s Moana accompanied with free training on basic coastal and marine management principles.
The announcement took place at Apia’s screening of Disney’s film on traditional Polynesian voyaging, attended by the film’s very own Moana, actress Auli’i Cravalho; as well as directors Ron Clements and John Musker, and producer Osnat Shurer.
SVS President and Marine Program Director of CI’s Pacific Oceanscape program, Schannel van Djiken, was happy to make the announcement. “Samoa is known as the heart of Polynesia and home of the navigators. Both Conservation International and the Samoan Voyaging Society are extremely pleased to have Disney’s support in helping inspire this tradition among the youth so they know the importance and significance of their powerful cultural history and realize the important links between our culture and the wise stewardship of nature.”
Many details in Disney’s Moana suggests that the story takes place in Samoa, from the traditional round fale (Samoan houses) to the film’s music, provided in part by Samoan-born artist Opetaia Foa’i. Incidentally, Disney researchers met with SVS during the pre-production of Moana to better understand movements on a traditional sailing canoe.
The film’s protagonist Moana, an adventurous teenager who is inspired to leave the safety and security of her island on a daring journey to save her people, very much parallels the work of SVS and other voyaging societies across the Pacific who, in recent years, have turned to the canoe to revitalize the lost Pacific traditions of wayfinding and to spread messages of environmental awareness.
“For the film Moana to be a part of this community outreach program is an honor,” said producer Osnat Shurer. “Moana means ocean in most Pacific Island languages, and the ocean is a character in our film, so this is a perfect fit! We are humbled to have Moana presented to local communities by the great wayfinders of the Samoa Voyaging Society.”
Source: Schannel van Djiken, Conservation International, 12/14/2016