There are many myths and misconceptions about Moana, a Polynesian mythological character. One such myth or tale relates to Moana’s ability to change into an eagle. Although Moana was actually from an imaginary island called Motunui, some 3,000 years ago, this legend originated with the people of Hawaii. It may seem unlikely that such a tiny island could have so much staying power, but Moana truly does possess several fascinating features. Some legendary stories about Moana’s ability to change into an eagle relate her ability to do this by concentrating her mind on a small point in mid-air, such as the tip of a palm tree.
This ability has been attributed to several different Polynesian cultures. One such legend is that Maori legend has it that Moana’s creator, a high priest of a totepoh (chief of the gods) made her part of his pantheon. The legend says that Moana flew into the storm over Tahiti and was never seen again. This was later told by the Hawaiians in their earliest oral traditions. In modern times, when visitors to Hawaii to see the “flying bird” figure on their tourist maps, they often connect it with the Polynesian culture of Polynesia, specifically Samoa.
Another common legend about Moana relates to the legends of the other four great Polynesian gods of the heavens. They were known as the Nahuatl (bird-of-paradise) and kahuna (owl of the gods) from Hawaii. These gods also had the ability to transform into birds. This may account for the prevalence of the idea of Moana being from a fictional island on which the other gods were born.
By the time Polynesians voyaged to Polynesia, most likely they did not know Moana was a real person. Perhaps because of this, the Polynesian voyagers never gave her any special titles or customs and did not give her any honors or rewards for being a great lover of birds. Nevertheless, she was worshiped by the Tahiti Islanders as a goddess who brought great wealth and prosperity to them. Polynesian voyages were a high point of Moana’s career and many voyagers returned from these trips with stories about her. Some of these tales tell of how Moana led her people to freedom and how she restored order to her Polynesian people.
Because of Moana’s role as a major deity at various Polynesian Islands, some Polynesian stories about her have Moana’s name written all over them. “Where is Moana from?” is one question that has long baffled scholars of Polynesia and Hawaii. Since some Polynesian voyages to Polynesia did mention Moana by name, it can be assumed that she probably spent some time on the Hawaiian Islands.
One of the most common answers to the question, “What is Moana from?” is that she is from the Polynesian Islands. However, most modern Polynesian cultures do not have any contact with Hawaii or Samoa. This is why there are no Moana dolls or paintings to be found in most Polynesian homes.
In Samoan mythology, Moana was the goddess of wealth and married Taneha, the god of wealth in Hawaii. This marriage caused Taneha to abandon his people, who then started to rebuild their lives after being displaced from their home on Kauai. From this legend, it can be inferred that Moana was a very important part of the native Hawaiian culture.
Where is Moana from? Who is she supposed to be? If she came from Hawaii then she would not be Polynesian. Instead, it is more likely that Moana was a beautiful, smart and extremely wise old woman, who learned all that she could about life on Kauai while living with a family that was equally as wise. Regardless, of how she got to Polynesia or where she settled down after her voyaging adventures in Hawaii, it can safely be said that Moana represents many of the attributes of Polynesian people including their love of the outdoors, their hardiness and their spirituality.