The Moana Series: The Meaning of the Manta Ray (kid friendly)



The name of the manta—hahalua—can be interpreted as ‘two breaths: ha, meaning breath, and lua, meaning two. Their experience from below transcends into our sphere.

-Roxanne Stewart

Moana’s grandmother, Tala, is linked to manta rays because she lives in the past and the present, has two breaths (see quote). Manta rays live far below but also visit to the surface, sometimes even jumping out of the water!

Tala is connected with the ancestral voyagers, yet is alive in the present moment with her people; her soul, her breath, is in two places at once. The villagers do not understand this connection to the past, so they think she is the "village crazy lady." Without a connection to their voyaging past, the villagers also think it is crazy for Moana to take a boat past the reef.

For Moana to succeed in her voyage past the reef, she must use the energy of the past, must access her second breath.

At :50 and 1:58 in the video, the video shows the boat and its reflection in the water. The image is a manta ray, but also a butterfly. Just as manta rays live in two places, the high flying butterfly was also once a landlocked caterpillar. In this way, manta rays are like the butterflies of the ocean. For Moana to fly like a butterfly to greater heights in her journey, to transcend the landlocked-caterpillar nature of her island people, she be like the manta to access the world below. She must access her second breath: the energy of her ancestral past.