Te Reo Māori version of The Lion King coming to cinemas


A te reo Māori version of The Lion King will be playing at the Māoriland Film Festival this June -  Just in time for the first public holiday Matariki.

The Lion King Reo Māori  will be released in Aotearoa cinemas on June 23, and the following week, will screen at the festival. 

The same team that brought us a te reo Māori Moana back in 2017 are working on the project. Matewa Media production duo Chelsea Winstanley (Oscar nominated producer of Jojo Rabbit) and Tweedie Waititi are at the helm.

And after a year of going viral around the world with Ka Hoe ‘35', Rob Ruha is The Lion King Reo Māori’s musical director. We know those opening notes as the sun rises across the savanna are going to be amazing!

The team began casting the Māori versions of the characters back in 2021, hunting up and down the country to find the perfect performers.

A team of 5 translators have worked to translate the spirit of the Disney classic and have  matched the various characters Simba meets along his journey with different dialects of te reo Māori. 

The filmmakers wanted to celebrate a variety of dialects in the film, the Lions will be speaking Tainui dialect, drawing a parallel between the lions of pride rock and Kīngitanga, Rafiki will speak Tūhoe, and Timon and Pumba in Te Tai Tokerau.

The team are also finishing a te Reo Māori version of Frozen which is currently set to premiere in September. On Frozen they have been working closely with Ngāi Tahu, as they are an iwi surrounded by snow.

The Maoriland Film Festival will be on in the Kapiti Coast from June 29 - July 3 as a part of Matariki Ramaroa Kapiti Lights Festival.