The stars of Disney's Moana are in Auckland for the New Zealand premiere of the film and its Kiwi stars couldn't be happier with what they've helped make.
Moana (see our review here) isn't a princess, she has no prince or love interest, she is not desperate to escape her home or people, she isn't stick thin and she's certainly no damsel in distress. So to tell her unique story, Disney came to the Pacific to have our unique voices weigh in.
Fighting for the culture
Samoan-born Kiwi music legend Opetaia Foa'i worked alongside Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda and Disney stalwart Mark Mancina on the film's soundtrack, becoming a voice for the culture.
As such, Foa'i had to "put my foot down" when he felt the culture could be better represented.
"They're not from this culture so I can expect them - with good intentions - to make mistakes. It's just one of those things. But when I put my foot down they were able to go, 'Oh okay, Opetaia says this so we'll look at that again'," says Foa'i.
Foa'i has spent the better part of 20 years travelling and learning from elders to get a grasp of the culture, so "I know it might be a bit arrogant but ... I felt like I'd done my homework and ... understood what was culturally right and what wasn't".
"I put my foot down and said no way. This thing here, you've got to treat it with respect, it describes the mana that the ancestors had, the confidence they had in voyaging these waters, their pride in finding their direction and knowing where they wanted to go," the musician says.
"I actually stood up and I think the whole room went quiet because I got carried away telling everyone off. I probably should've been sacked about four times for doing things like that, but luckily they kept me."
And it paid off; the finished film is something Foa'i is proud of and his "ancestors would be proud of it" so he was "able to come back with my head held high".
His hope now is that the film will get young people to seek out the same knowledge he did.
"I think this will awaken some sort of sense of pride in people and hopefully they will go, 'Oh I need to go back and reconnect and put my feet on the land and discover, find out about my roots.'"
Jemaine and the giant crab
Of course, one of the biggest musical moments in the film comes from New Zealand's own Jemaine Clement, who brings his well-known flair and humour into Moana as its standout villain Tamatoa.
While Clement, who has been busy working on numerous projects in Los Angeles, will be seeing the movie for the first time at tonight's premiere, he's well aware his character is far from how he imagined him. With a name like Tamatoa, Clement pictured him to be a "big, tough warrior".
"But from what I've heard I think he scares people but in a totally different way," Clement laughs.
He worked closely with Lin-Manuel Miranda on Tamatoa's song Shiny, the demo for which he describes as "[Lin] doing an impression of me doing an impression of David Bowie".
Miranda and Clement had met before at a comedy festival about a decade before coming together on Moana, "so maybe I left an impression on him", Clement says.
So while Clement knows little of what to expect past a Bowie-esque performance on his part, he is excited to see how the film might bring the people of the Pacific together.
"What's cool to me about it, is the way that it's Pasifika 3000 years ago and it shows a connecting point for Polynesian people which you don't think about in New Zealand, it's like we're this group, they're that group - you forget that there's so much in common."
And that's what two of Moana's pivotal actors have taken from the film too - a sense of unity and pride.
Temuera Morrison plays Moana's father who wants her to take over as chief one day, while Rachel House plays Moana's Gramma Tala, who encourages her to follow her heart and voyage the seas.
Morrison describes the film as "a feast for the eyes, the ear, and more so the heart. The heart beats a proud beat, and you feel proud to be Polynesian," he says.
"And a reminder that we have all started off together," House adds.
The pair had their concerns over how the Pacific people would be represented in Disney's first foray into Polynesia, but they were comforted by the knowledge that Kiwi director Taika Waititi had penned the film's first draft.
"I was also really pleased that finally there would be a strong, young, feisty, Polynesian heroine as a central protagonist. That's what I was excited about," House says.
"I Identified with [Moana and Maui] immediately. I was actually relieved to see the way they looked. I'm actually a bit surprised about some of the fuss that's being made about Moana [that she's "a bit bigger than normal"]. I go: 'But why? She's completely normal. Are you kidding? She's healthy, she's strong, She's where it should be at.'"
The pair are especially honoured to be a part of the film, having come up from a time where they used to watch the regular Sunday night Disney feature with their families - "back when we only had two channels".
"I remember fondly those times - I think it was one of the few times we actually sat as a family. So now many years later, to be in one of these, it's [great].
"But did you ever imagine you'd see Polynesians in there?" House asks.
"No, no I didn't," Morrison responds.
"It's huge this movie. It's one story, featuring us Polynesians. Here's to many more."
• Moana will be released in New Zealand on December 26