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While Kai, a Hawaiian name that means "sea," has been increasing in popularity, Moana may just catch up. Moana (moh-AH-nah) means "ocean" in Hawaiian, Polynesian and Maori (New Zealand). Both Kai and Moana are unisex. Moana first appeared with the SSA in 1941, given to 8 girls, and there are no recordings for boys. It's been used very sporadically, but it wasn't until 2000 that it picked up to steady, albeit rare, usage. In 2015 it was given to 18 girls, and in 2016 that number rose to 56.

Interestingly, the French Disney company completely changed the name of the movie to Vaiana: La Legende du Bout du Monde (translation: Vaiana: The Legend from the End of the Earth). Vaiana (vy-AH-nah) is Tahitian meaning "water cave." In the movie, her last name Waialiki also has a word meaning "water." Vaiana has not been used in the U.S. and it is a surprising choice to be used in the French dubbed version of the movie.

Moana is also the newest Disney princess name: Moana is a Polynesian chief's daughter who uses the help of the demi-god Maui to finish a family quest and perfect her skills of navigation. In Polynesian mythology, Maui was responsible for raising the Hawaiian islands from the ocean floor. ... Moana's mom in the movie, Sina, may have also been based on a Polynesian goddess of the same name, but we won't know for sure until the movie comes out.

The Disney movie is not the first film titled Moana - in 1926 a documentary titled Moana came out by director Robert Flaherty. Set in Samoa, it follows a man named Moana and his Samoan village.

The House of Moana is a Hawaiian noble family which started with Moana kāne, whose granddaughter was named Moana Wahine. Many of their descendants were rulers in the House of Kamehameha. Sometimes the name is used as a word to describe "ocean blue," or lanu moana.

There are two namesakes for Moana, however, neither are Hawaiian. Moana Rosa Pozzi is an Italian adult film actress (and the reason why the main character in the Disney movie will be renamed Vaiana in Italy), and Moana Maree Maniapoto is a New Zealand singer.

Moana Radio is a broadcast in New Zealand. In French Polynesia, "moana wrestling" is a traditional folk wrestling style, also practiced in Tahiti.


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