Disney’s ’Moana’ prompts backlash over depiction of obese Polynesian god

Some have criticised the film studio for making Maui appear overweight

Disney has come under fire for its portrayal of a Polynesian character in its upcoming film Moana.

The film studio has been criticised for depicting Maui, a figure from Polynesian mythology, as obese with one New Zealand MP saying the character was “not acceptable”.

Samoan professional rugby player Eliota Fuimanono Sapolu voiced his dislike for Disney’s version of Maui on Facebook, writing that “Maui looking like after he fished up the Islands, he deep fried em and and ate em”.


Will Ilolahia, from the Pacific Island Media Association, told Waatea News that Disney was trivialising serious health concerns.

He said: “This depiction of Maui being obese is typical American stereotyping. Obesity is a new phenomena because of the first world food that’s been stuffed down our throat.”

Data from the World Health Organisation shows that nine of the ten most obese nations in the world are Pacific Islands.

Others have come out in support of Disney on social media.

Samoan comic book artist Michael Mulipola said on Twitter that he was “not phased by the way Maui is designed in this film”.


Dwayne Johnson will voice the role of Maui in Moana, due out in November.