Moana Wikia
Background Information
Feature Film Moana
Games Rhythm Run
Moana: Island Life
Inspiration Teti'aroa[1]
Other Information
Ruler Matai Vasa † (first chief)

Matai's son † (second chief)
Tui's paternal grandfather † (chief; formerly)
Tui's father † (chief; formerly)
Tui (chief; formerly)
Moana Waialiki (chief)

Inhabitants Sina, Gramma Tala †, Pua, Heihei, Vela, Tolo, Lasalo, Loa, Lua, and La'a, Mavia
Final State Standing
The island gives us what we need!
―The villagers on Motunui

Motunui is a South Pacific island and the home of the titular protagonist of the film Moana.


Thousands of years before Moana, Motunui was the home to the world's first great navigators, who used their wayfinding skills to cross the open oceans, exploring for new islands. However, because the demigod Maui stole the Heart of Te Fiti, the world surrounding the island became overrun with darkness. The sea became too dangerous for exploration, and the inhabitants of the island were forbidden from ever leaving the security of the reef (though the true reason as to why had been kept from the following generations).[2] The voyagers' boats were hidden in a cavern behind a waterfall. The entrance to the cave from the surface of the island, an ancient lava tube, was blocked with rocks and hidden by vines.


Essential guide description

The beautiful island of Motunui rises above the ocean waves like a green jewel. Steep, rocky mountains stretch high into the sky. Bright flowers and tumbling waterfalls lie around every corner.

Physical appearance

Motunui looks like a typical high volcanic Polynesian island, with a hot tropical climate, white-sand beaches, crystal clear lagoon, many trees including coconut palms, houses made of wood and straw (fales), and high elevations (mountains). Cliffs rise into the clouds. About 40 different kinds of plants and trees grow on the island. These include taro and breadfruit. Villagers use coconut palms for practically everything.

Role in the Movie

Chief Tui takes Moana to the "place of chiefs" atop of one of the peaks in Motunui, where every chief throughout their history has placed a stone on a stack, and tells her she needs to be the next great chief of their people. Moana Waialiki leaves to save her island and all the villagers on it. Motunui is slowly succumbing to the spreading darkness that began when Maui stole the Heart of Te Fiti. Harvested coconuts are blackened on the inside. Crops are rotting. Fish are disappearing. Tendrils of the darkness have reached the edges of the island. In a dream, Moana sees Motonui being overtaken by the blackened, ashy disintegration that signals the arrival of the darkness. Her parents try try to run towards her, shouting for help, but are overtaken by the cloud. 

In the end of the movie, the island is restored; flowers bloom and the island thrives once again.


Fales are the form of housing used in Motunui. Fales have no walls. They are huts with thatched roofs, built with wooden beams. The roofs are thatched with palmetto leaves and grass. Coconut fiber holds the building together. The chief's fale is the largest. Groups of families live together and share one fale.

After reassuring the children that the monsters of Gramma Tala's tale don't exist, Chief Tui accidentally bumps the side of the fale, letting the tapa cloths unroll, revealing depictions of monsters and scaring the kids.


Moana Wikia has a collection of images and media related to Motunui which can be found at Motunui/Gallery.


  • The name of the island can be from Maori origin, coming from the Motunui settlement in northern Taranaki, in the North Island of New Zealand, or from Rapa Nui origin, coming from the Motu Nui islet in the south of Easter Island, Chile.
  • Although the name of the island is indeed of Polynesian origin (see trivia above), there is no Motunui island in real life. The filmmakers chose to create a fictional island in order to equally represent and honor the Polynesian peoples and their cultures without giving clear preference to just one. This way, Motunui embodies the culture and traits of many Polynesian peoples and their islands.
  • At the end of the movie, the magical flower from Tangled can be seen blooming.