I couldn’t do another Disney Designs piece without doing my new favourite Disney film: Moana. Seriously, it’s overtaken my long-time favourites, Hercules and Mulan, and it’s not even a cartoon! It’s also The Goblin’s new favourite – I don’t think he’s actually said ‘you’re welcome’ without singing it since the first time we watched the film…
The jewel in question is, of course, the Heart of Te Fiti, which Moana wears in a locket around her neck to keep it safe on her quest to return it to its rightful owner, the earth goddess Te Fiti.
The Heart is meant to be made of New Zealand greenstone, which is the catch-all term for certain types of nephrite jade, serpentine and bowenite, and which is highly valued in Maori culture. (They’re known as taonga, or treasure, and are so valuable that they’re protected under the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi.) These stones are also extremely durable, so it’s no wonder the Heart survives an epic journey across the oceans! Carved and shaped greenstones are known as pounamu, and increase in value the older they are, as they gain mana (prestige or power) from the histories they are witness to. Different designs also – naturally – mean different things, as this very interesting articles explains.
Some examples of pounamu:
Making the Heart a greenstone pounamu is a gorgeous detail in the film, and I’ve definitely learnt something new researching it. I also now reeeeally want this necklace:
Canon deities, canoes, and the world’s scariest crabs: bonus trivia
1) Maui actually did all the things he brags about in You’re Welcome, although he had a female counterpart, Hina, without whom he wouldn’t have been able to achieve many of them, and who was disappointingly left out of the film… They also left out the story where he dies from encountering goddess of night and death, Hine-nui-te-pō’s, vagina dentata – I wonder why! The teeth were made of obsidian though, so at least she was stylish with her murdering…
2) The storyline about Moana’s people being voyagers and then stopping for a mysterious reason is actually based on historical events. After settling Western Polynesia (Samoa, Tonga, Fiji 3500 years ago, Pacific Islanders stopped voyaging for a solid two milennia…and nobody knows why. Why did a civilisation built on voyaging just stay were they were until 1500-500 years ago? Many solutions have been suggested, from wind patterns to algae poisoning, but it remains a mystery to this day… As a historian, though, I was delighted that this element of Moana was based on a real-life trend.
3) Although the queer-coding of Tamatoa was one of the more disappointing elements of the film, it turns out that Coconut Crabs like him he is actually are well-known for stealing shiny things. At up to 9lbs and 3m from leg to leg, they’re also the largest land crab, and they’re bloody terrifying. They’re cannibals and autophages (they fucking eat their own offcast exoskeletons, people), and they’ve been known to attack humans. Maybe Tamatoa was more on point than I thought… I just wish they’d made him the same browny-yellow colour as an actual coconut crab rather than that loaded pinky-purple!
So there we have it – Moana’s Heart of Te Fiti and some trivia on the film (which is amazing and you should all watch it right now seriously go I’ll wait). Moana is a badass heroine who’s also really human and fails throughout the film, and she has no love interest for the entire 107 minutes. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s as close as Disney’s ever got to decent representation whilst still being hilarious. And obviously Lin-Manuel Miranda’s involvement in the soundtrack doesn’t hurt…
Which Disney design should I do next? Let me know in the comments.