Background Information
Feature Film Moana
Games Rhythm Run
Moana: Island Life
Inspiration Teti'aroa[1]
Other Information
Ruler 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. With their resources, they explored the open oceans freely and triumphantly. However, due to the actions of the demigod Maui, the world surrounding the island became overrun with darkness. It was eventually declared that the sea was too dangerous for exploration, and the inhabitants of the island's village were thereby forbidden from ever leaving the security of the reef (though the true reason as to why had been kept confidential from the following generations).[2] Boats were hidden in a cavern beneath a waterfall. The cave, so no one would be able to enter it, was covered by rocks and the rocks were covered by vines. The only way to access it is through a lava tube- which of course is cooled down by now.


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 Polynesian island, with a hot tropical climate, white-sand beaches, crystal clear waters, many trees including coconut palms, houses made of wood and straw (fales), and high earth 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

During the movie, coconuts are going bad and groves of trees are being moved. Motunui is slowly getting drained away. Crops are rotting. The bluff is getting drowned by black icky stuff. Fish are leaving. At the top of one of the higher peaks in Motunui, there is a "place of chiefs," where every chief places a stone. Chief Tui shows Moana this place, 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.

In a dream, Moana sees her island and it is being drowned out by black stuff. Her parents are trying to run, but can't get away. Moana is standing on an island little ways from Motunui.

In the end of the movie, the island is fixed, and 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.

In the movie, after Gramma Tala's story, Chief Tui accidentally bumps the side of the sale, letting the tapa cloths fall, revealing 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.


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