Disney Is Bringing New Maori-Language Versions of 'The Lion King' and 'Frozen' to Cinemas Down Under

'The Lion King Reo Maori' will hit cinemas in June 2022, and 'Frozen Reo Maori' will follow in September.
Sarah Ward
Published on July 23, 2021

The next time you watch two of Disney's best-loved animated hits, you won't be belting out "it's the circle of life" and "let it go" (or trying to resist the urge to sing along while sitting in a crowded cinema). When The Lion King Reo Maori and Frozen Reo Maori hit theatres in Australia and New Zealand in 2022, they'll still include everything that's made audiences adore both movies over the years — and both films will be dubbed in te reo Māori as well.

The Mouse House has announced that it's creating and releasing new Māori-language versions of The Lion King and Frozen in conjunction with NZ company Matewa Media, after Moana Reo Māori proved a big hit. Producers Chelsea Winstanley (Jojo Rabbit) and Tweedie Waititi (Moana Reo Māori, Rūrangi) are behind the new releases, and have started work on giving the two Oscar-winning flicks a new voice.

"It was always our dream to dub more Disney films that our tāmariki love into te reo Māori. We are extremely thrilled to continue this journey with The Walt Disney Company — it clearly demonstrates their commitment as a company to diversity and inclusion," said Winstanley.

It might seem like a straightforward change, but the importance of giving audiences access to beloved tales in different languages — and, for New Zealanders, in the country's Indigenous language — really can't be underestimated. And, it's hardly common practice, but Moana and now The Lion King and Frozen are leading the charge.

Viewers will be able to check out the results in June and September 2022, with The Lion King Reo Maori releasing first to commemorate Matariki (Māori New Year) and Frozen Reo Maori hitting cinemas around Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, Māori Language Week. Presumably, the films will also then head to Disney+ — which is where you can stream Moana Reo Māori right now.

Trailers for The Lion King Reo Maori and Frozen Reo Maori don't yet exist, understandably, but you can check out a video for Moana Reo Māori below instead:

The Lion King Reo Maori will hit cinemas in June 2022, and Frozen Reo Maori will follow in September 2022 — we'll update you with exact dates when they're announced.

Published on July 23, 2021 by Sarah Ward
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