Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Labour MP Jenny Salesa says Disney portrayal of Maui in Moana movie sends wrong message

An overweight character in the new Disney film Moana perpetuates negative stereotypes and is unacceptable, a Labour MP says.

Manukau East MP Jenny Salesa has criticised the appearance of the demigod Maui in the upcoming movie.

She cited a Facebook post by former Samoa international and professional rugby player Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, in which he wrote that Maui "looked like after he fished up the Islands, he deep fried em and ate em".

Actor Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson voices the character of Maui in Disney movie Moana. Photo / Getty Imgaes
Actor Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson voices the character of Maui in Disney movie Moana. Photo / Getty Imgaes
Labour MP for Manukau East, Jenny Salesa. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Labour MP for Manukau East, Jenny Salesa. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Labour MP said the depiction sent the wrong message.

"When we look at photos of Polynesian men and women from the last 100-200 years, most of our people were not overweight and this negative stereotype of Maui is just not acceptable - no thanks to Disney," Ms Salesa, who is Parliament's first Tongan-speaking member, wrote on Facebook.

Moana and Maui in the upcoming Disney animated movie. Photo / Supplied
Moana and Maui in the upcoming Disney animated movie. Photo / Supplied

A trailer for Moana was released last week.

The short clip mostly features Maui, voiced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, as he attempts to impress Moana and her pet pig.

Disney say the film will follow Moana as she sails out on a mission to prove herself as a master navigator, and to fulfil an ancient quest.

Maui wields a magical fishhook in the movie. Photo / Supplied
Maui wields a magical fishhook in the movie. Photo / Supplied

Moana is written by acclaimed Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi, and New Zealand music group Te Vaka is helping create the soundtrack, led by composer and lead singer Opetaia Foa'i.

Moana is written by acclaimed Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Moana is written by acclaimed Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Moana will be released in New Zealand on Boxing Day.

- NZ Herald

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