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Matai Vasa is a minor character in Disney's 2016 animated feature film Moana. He is the ancestral leader of Moana's tribe, having led his tribe to Motunui.

Role in the film[]

Matai appears during the song "We Know the Way" in a flashback depicting his travels with his people. Throughout the song, he is seen guiding the boats as they voyage to Motunui. Once his people colonize Motunui, Matai gives his necklace to his son and passes the title of chief onto him.

Matai is later seen during "I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)" as a spirit. As the boats make their way past Moana, Matai nods to her in respect.


  • In Lithuanian, Matai means "measurements".
  • Matai's name was revealed in Moana: The Essential Guide. In the game Disney Crossy Road, he is named "Ghost Matai".
  • Matai is also the Samoan title means "Chief" at the Fa'amatai system.
  • As the first chief, it is possible that he started the tradition of placing stones on top of the mountain of Motunui.
  • Matai had a slightly larger role in previous drafts of the movie, as he was mentioned by name a few times. At one point, Gramma Tala had Moana memorize her ancestors, beginning with Matai, all the way down to her grandfather: Tala's husband.
  • Matai wears a pendant that is similar to Moana's Necklace.


Concept art[]


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Moana (soundtrack/video) • Moana 2Moana (2026)Gone FishingChibi Tiny Tales

Video games: Moana: Island LifeMoana: Rhythm RunDisney Emoji BlitzDisney Heroes: Battle ModeDisney Magic KingdomsDisney Sorcerer's Arena
Books: The Art of MoanaDisney Princess Beginnings

Disney Parks
Art of Disney AnimationCastle of Magical DreamsIt's a Small WorldJourney of Water, Inspired by Moana

Entertainment: Believe! Sea of Dreams"A Whole New World" A Magical Disney SongbookBelieve! Sea of DreamsFantasmic!Follow Your DreamsMickey’s Storybook AdventureMoana: A Homecoming CelebrationRivers of Light: We Are OneThe Adventure of RhythmThe Tale of MoanaWhen You Wish
Parades: A Million Splashes of ColourDisney Adventure Friends CavalcadeDisney Harmony in Color! ParadeMagic HappensMain Street Electrical ParadeMickey & Friends Street Celebration
Fireworks: Disney EnchantmentHappily Ever AfterHarmoniousMomentousWonderful World of AnimationWorld of Color: OneIlluminate! A Nighttime CelebrationWondrous Journeys
Spring: Disney Pirate or Princess: Make Your Choice
Summer: Adventure is Out There!Summer Blast

Moana: MoanaMauiGramma TalaChief TuiSinaHeiheiPuaMini MauiTamatoaKakamoraTe Fiti/Te KāOceanEight-Eyed BatsMatai VasaMotunui Villagers

Moana 2: SimeaLotoKeleMoniKotu
Deleted characters: Moana's Brothers

MotunuiMaui's IslandLalotaiTamatoa's LairTe Fiti
Moana: Tulou TagaloaAn Innocent WarriorWhere You AreHow Far I'll GoWe Know the WayYou're WelcomeShinyLogo Te PateI Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)Know Who You Are

Moana 2: We're Back
Deleted songs: UnstoppableMoreWarrior Face

Maui's Fish HookHeart of Te FitiMoana's NecklaceMoana's Boat
See Also
As Told by Emoji