Entertainment | Moana

‘I’m a proud māmā' - Frankie Adams on new role in Moana Live-Action movie

Cast of the Disney Live-Action Movie Moana.

DIsney has announced three Kiwis taking part in the main group of characters.of its new Moana Live-Action movie.

Samoan-Kiwi actress Frankie Adams will play Moana’s mother, Sina Waialiki, a role originally voiced by Nicole Scherzinger in the 2016 animated movie.

Adams took to social media to share her excitement about the news, especially for her onscreen daughter Catherine Laga’aia.

“Our lil Moana aiga ♥️ congratulations to our sweet Katie who is bringing Moana to life.

“I’m a proud mamā! So honored and grateful to be part of this team.

“This is truly surreal. Ok, ok I’m off to have another joyful cry and get ready for my trip to Motonui! X,” Adams wrote on Instagram.

The Kiwi actress is well-known for her roles in Shortland Street, The Panthers, The Expanse and many more films and TV shows, both in Aotearoa and internationally.

‘To represent young girls who look like me’

(Left to Right) John Tui, Catherine Laga‘aia, Rena Owen.

Seventen-year-old Australian-Samoan actress Catherine Laga’aia will be playing the lead role of Moana, taking over the role from Auliʻi Cravalho, who voiced the character in the animated films and will be an executive producer for this project.

“I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites.

“My grandfather comes from Fa’aala, Palauli, in Savai’i. And my grandmother is from Leulumoega Tuai on the main island of ‘Upolu in Samoa.

“I’m honoured to have an opportunity to celebrate Samoa and all Pacific Island peoples, and to represent young girls who look like me,” Laga’aia wrote in a press release.

Other stars set to voyage to Motunui are Once Were Warriors star Rena Owen as Gramma Tala; The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies actor John Tui as Moana’s father, Chief Tui; and the original Maui is making his way back on screen, with Dwayne Johnson not only joining the cast to play the demigod but also serving as a producer.

Filming starts this year and it is expected to be released in New Zealand cinemas on July 9, 2026.

For people who want their Moana fix sooner, the sequel to the 2016 film will be in theatres at the end of this year.