Polynesians including Maori are to get Disney cartoon treatment earlier than expected in a kind of haka meets Frozen in the South Seas.
Walt Disney Animation Studios said in a statement the movie Moana, would be a sweeping, computer-generated animated comedy-adventure about a spirited teenager on an impossible mission to fulfil her ancestors' quest.
The original screen play was written by Wellington's What We Do in the Shadows director Taika Waititi, Filmdivider reported today.
It will hit the screens in late 2016, two years earlier than planned, in the wake of the multi-million success of Frozen.
Moana will be directed by film-making team of Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog and Aladdin).
Just as Native Americans were defined in Pocahontas and felines in The Lion King, Disney said Moana would be their "newest princess of colour . . . a Polynesian adventurer, and she sounds awesome".
Musker said Moana was "indomitable, passionate and a dreamer with a unique connection to the ocean itself."
"She's the kind of character we all root for, and we can't wait to introduce her to audiences."
Clements said creating Moana would be one of the thrills of the team's career.
"It's a big adventure set in this beautiful world of Oceania," he said.
Disney said that "in the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania, Moana, a born navigator, sets sail in search of a fabled island".
No details are given, although smart money would say that Hawaiki is certain to make an appearance.
"During her incredible journey, she teams up with her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui, to traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous sea creatures, breathtaking underworlds and ancient folklore," it said.
The news of Disney's 56th animation is getting a lot of Hollywood and business press, and its share price jumped in the wake of Frozen which has so far grossed US$1.2 billion (NZ$1.5 billion)"
Business magazine Forbes says that "along with the fact that they are not remotely trying to hide the female-centric nature of the story, it goes to show that come what may, Walt Disney is not backing down from providing female-centric entertainment to go alongside their Star Wars and Avengers entries".
"That wasn't a sure-thing just a few years ago, but the successes of the likes of Frozen and Maleficent seems to have changed all of that," Forbes said.
Frozen was not just female-centric animated fable (two lead female characters) but had a female director, Jennifer Lee.
Forbes said not only was Moana a female-centric animated adventure, but it was actually named for the female title character.
"We shall see how the film is marketed, but it stands to reason that the success of the female-centric Maleficent campaign means that we won't have to worry about trailers narrated by the smart-aleck male 'co-star' this time around," it said.
It will not be the first major movie called Moana.
A 1922 film by Robert J Flaherty, Nanook of the North, is credited as being the world's first documentary. His second, made in 1926, was Moana, filmed in Safune on Savai'i in Samoa.
Polynesians have a long tradition of having their culture romantically defined by others from the noble savage of the 18th century, through several versions of Mutiny on the Bounty, and the stereotype-defining musical South Pacific by Rodgers and Hammerstein, which was based on James Michener's book of the same name.
These days South Pacific looks decidedly culturally inappropriate - and even now offends Polynesians, especially those mistaken for the character, Bloody Mary.
This article originally appeared on Stuff.co.nz