Disney announces that te reo versions of The Lion King and Frozen will be released in cinemas

Headlines 23/07/2021

Iconic films The Lion King and Frozen will be made in te reo Māori and re-released in Aotearoa cinemas next year, Disney has announced. 

The news comes after the successful collaboration between Matewa Media and The Walt Disney Studios in 2017 when Moana was re-released as Moana Reo Māori.

JoJo Rabbit producer Chelsea Winstanley and Rurangi producer Tweedie Waititi are beginning production on the Māori language versions of the animated features, set to premiere for Kiwi and Australian audiences next year. 

"It was always our dream to dub more Disney films that our tāmariki love into te reo Māori," Winstanley said in a statement. 

"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." 

"Kia taorotia te reo Māori ki ngā uri puta noa, puta noa! In order for our language to thrive it must reach the hearts and homes of our people," Waititi added. 

Lion King Reo Māori will be released in June 2022, to align with Matariki, while Frozen Reo Māori will arrive three months later in September, coinciding with Te Wiki o te Reo Māori - Māori Language Week.

Kylie Watson-Wheeler, Disney's senior vice president & managing director for Australia and New Zealand, said the company was "truly excited" to release the Te Reo versions of the films.  

"The launch of Moana Reo Māori was an incredibly special moment for our New Zealand based team, and we know that continuing to celebrate the indigenous language with the addition of these cherished films will mean a lot to the local community."

The exact release dates will be announced later.