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Chief Tui is a supporting character in Disney's 2016 animated feature film, Moana. He is the village leader of Motunui, and the father of Moana. After losing a loved one to the seas, Tui developed aquaphobia, and forbade his people from journeying beyond Motunui's reef. Tui's law created some conflict with his daughter, who dreamt of becoming a voyager.


Tui is the chief of the people on the island of Motunui, having succeeded his father. In the days of his youth, despite the laws that forbade voyaging, Tui was drawn to the sea and dreamt of sailing in the vein of his ancestors. One night, Tui and his best friend took a canoe out into the ocean, and successfully crossed Motunui's barrier reef. Upon doing so, however, the two were struck by rough seas that destroyed their vessel. Although Tui survived, his best friend was lost to the sea, having drowned. Consumed by his heartache and guilt, Tui became aquaphobic, and sought to protect his people by strictly upholding the law that forbade anyone from going beyond the sanctity of the island's barrier reef.

Official description

Chief Tui is the gregarious and well-respected leader of the people of Motunui Island. Chief Tui wants Moana to follow in his footsteps as leader of their people, but fears his daughter's draw to the ocean and the world that lies beyond their reef.[1]


Tui is a well-respected and caring leader. He values his family, island, and people, showing great pride in the life they've built for themselves. He genuinely believes Motunui to be paradise, and has become perfectly content in remaining on its shores. As chief, he has made it his mission to ensure that his family and people feel the same, for their own happiness.

Though he loves his family, Tui's stubbornness often clashes with that of Moana, due to the latter's love for the sea. Tui sees himself in his daughter, both positively and negatively; since her birth, he has pressured Moana to uphold their family legacy by succeeding him as chief, a position he believes she would handle exceptionally. However, Moana also shares her father's youthful love for the ocean. Having lingering guilt for his friend's death, Tui sees Moana's desire to reinvigorate voyaging as selfish, accusing her of pursuing a dream at the cost of endangering their people. His staunch adherence to his belief that the island will provide despite the concrete evidence that their home is dying shows that Tui is too afraid to admit his belief is becoming invalid and actually endangers his people. Once Moana proves her worth by sailing across the ocean and saving the village, Tui was able to come to terms with her love for the sea, and his own.



Tui's introduction, with a toddler Moana.

Early in her youth, Moana was drawn to the sea, and the ancient legends told by her grandmother (and Tui's mother) Tala. Tala believed an ancient curse was slowly consuming the world, meaning someone would have to venture passed the reef to save the island. Tui believed otherwise, and was open about his opinion on the matter. He also believed the idea of leaving Motunui to be a foolish one, as he viewed his village as nothing short of paradise. Nevertheless, Moana still found herself attracted to the open ocean, which only drove Tui and his wife Sina to spend years breaking her out of the apparent phase. By the time Moana was teenaged, Tui felt comfortable with taking her to a sacred part of the island, where chiefs of the past place their rock to solidify the start of their eras. With Moana next in line to serve as chief, Tui expresses excitement in having his daughter follow in his footsteps, but stresses that Moana must forget her love for exploration to properly focus on the welfare of her people and family.

Moana willingly agrees, and she works alongside her father and mother as leaders of the village. She proves to be successful, with Tui having so much trust and pride that he allows her to singlehandedly solve some of the issues throughout the community. At one point, however, the food supply in the island begins to die down, including the fish. With every idea to fix the problem having been executed and met with failure, Moana suggests her people sail beyond the reef to find fish elsewhere. This angers Tui immensely, who reminds his people that no one is to leave the island. Moana argues against him, which only angers her father further. Tui gruffly reiterates his longstanding law, and leaves the scene before his temper worsens. With Moana failing to understand her father's decision, Sina explains the accident that killed Tui's best friend years ago. Though this gives Moana some context, it doesn't help her dilemma.

Tui and Moana's argument over the heart.

Later that night, Tui and Sina gathered with the villagers to discuss the crises of their dwindling food supply. Moana suddenly arrives and claims to have a solution, which rests on the legendary heart of Te Fiti. Moana shows her people the stone and tells them they were once voyagers with the ships of their ancestors still in their possessions, albeit hidden away in a secret cave. This infuriates Tui, who regrets not destroying the hidden boats years ago when he had the chance. He grabs a torch and heads to the hidden cave to do just that, though Moana tries to stop him and shows him the heart. Tui discards it as nothing but a rock, and as Moana scurries to recover it, she finds Tala's cane on the ground.

Tui and Moana are informed that Tala is in critical condition, and rush to her deathbed to oversee the problem. According to the medics, there is no foreseeable cure for Tala's failing health, and Tui mournfully remains by his mother's bedside as she passes away. Meanwhile, Moana leaves her home to fulfill her grandmother's dying wish of returning the heart of Te Fiti to save her people. During her voyage, Tui briefly returns in a nightmare in which he and Sina are killed by the growing darkness consuming their island.

Moana and Tui setting course.

Back in reality, Tui and Sina continue to overlook the dying crops. Suddenly, they begin to heal and grow as fresh as can be. The island appears to be saved, and just as this occurs, Moana returns from her voyage. Tui and Sina run to greet their daughter, and although the latter admits to having journeyed passed the reef, her father can only smile and accept her passion for voyaging. From there, Moana becomes the new Chief of Motunui, and reinvigorates her island's wayfinding roots. With her father supporting the abolition of his law, Moana takes her people to the seas and teaches them the ways of sailing as a master wayfinder. Tui is among them, taking in his daughter's wisdom as a new era for Motunui begins.

Other appearances

An emoticon version of Tui appeared in the As Told by Emoji retelling of Moana.





  • An abandoned concept in earlier drafts of the movie, involved Tui sending Heihei the rooster to tag along Moana's journey as a watchdog. In these versions, Heihei was Tui's sidekick of sorts, and accompanied the chief often. The rooster also took after Tui, as he was no-nonsense and aggressive with Moana's rule-breaking tendencies.[2]
  • Tui's necklace is made of whale teeth, which only royalty were allowed to wear, further establishing his role as chief.[3]
  • In the demo version of "Shiny", Tui was the relative that Tamatoa mocked. In the movie, Tamatoa mocks Tala.
  • Originally, Tui had multiple sons, the brothers of Moana. He had pride in each of them and their sailing talents, but was less pleased whenever Moana tried to join them at sea.
  • In deleted scenes, Tui knew the truth of Maui and Te Fiti, and openly prevented his people from sailing specifically to keep them away from the dangerous land spirit Te Po (named "Te Kā" in the final film). Additionally, Tui's father went sailing and never returned, presumably claimed by the sea, and this only heightened his fears, as he didn't want to lose another family member to the ocean.


  1. "New ‘Moana’ Photos and Character Details Introduce You to the Animated Cast". Screencrush (July 25, 2016).
  2. "Comic Con 2016: 15 Things to Know About Disney’s ‘Moana’". Collider (July 22, 2016).
  3. Julius, J., Lasseter, J., Malone, M. (2016). The Art of Moana. Chronicle Books, page 60. 

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See Also
As Told by Emoji