Māori Version of “The Lion King” in the Works

Producer of Jojo Rabbit and What We Do In The Shadows, Chelsea Winstanley, has opened a public casting call to find voice actors from the Māori community for a re-dub of Disney’s original animated version of The Lion King.

What’s Happening:

  • According to Deadline, Lion King Reo Māori will celebrate a variety of mita (dialects) through different characters, including: Lions (Tainui); Timon and Pumbaa (Te Tai Tokerau); Rafiki (Tūhoe); Zazu (Taranaki); Hyenas (Ngāti Kahungunu); and Chorus (open to te motu whānui).
  • Also working on the project is Tweedie Waititi, who produced the Māori version of Moana in 2017.
  • The team said they were using Te Reo Māori experts in each rohe (region) and are open to considering non-experienced voice actors during the online auditions.
  • Joining Winstanley and Waititi are Rachel House (Moana) as performance director and Rob Ruha (Moana Reo Māori) as musical director.
  • A Māori version of Frozen is reportedly also in the works, from the same team.
  • The Lion King Reo Māori will premiere in Australia and New Zealand in June 2022, in honor of Matariki (Māori New Year).

What They’re Saying:

  • Kylie Watson-Wheeler, Senior Vice President & Managing Director of The Walt Disney Company Australia & New Zealand said: “We are truly excited to bring the Māori versions of The Lion King and Frozen to Kiwi audiences following on from the successful release of Moana Reo Māori. 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.”
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