Moana is the daughter of Chief Tui, living on the oceanic island of Motunui as the appointed heir to the chiefdom. Since childhood, Moana has been deeply captivated by the rich legends and lore that have spread across the South Pacific islands over the centuries, most of which revolve around legendary gods and goddesses, such as the demigod Maui. Compelling Moana further into these legends is her always-supportive grandmother, Tala, who firmly believes Moana is destined to someday navigate and explore the seas, as her ancestors did before her. Tui, however, feels the world beyond the reef is far too dangerous for any exploration, and forbids his people (including Moana) from venturing off.
As she grows, Moana is driven to leave the village in hopes of uncovering the secrets of her heritage, while also connecting with it; accompanied by a bumbling, stowaway rooster known as Heihei. Along the way, she meets Maui, himself.
Moana is a teenager who dreams of becoming a master wayfinder.
Her name means "ocean" in many Polynesian languages, including Hawaiian and Maori.
Animators put a considerable amount of effort into ensuring Moana's hair added to her performance. They did so by developing new software to give the hair a realistic look. They also changed her hairstyle in different scenes, depending on her current action (such as tying her hair in a bun as she sails).
She will be the second protagonist of Polynesian descent in a Disney animated feature, the first being Lilo from Lilo & Stitch.
In some countries, she is renamed Vaiana due to copyright reasons.
Moana was originally going to be a playable character in the third installment of Disney INFINITY, but after the series was confirmed to have been discontinued in May 2016, it was implied that Moana was cancelled.
Moana's story will not involve a love interest or romantic sub-plot.