Auditions open for Te Reo Māori version of Disney's The Lion King

The first round of auditions are now open for the te reo Māori version of 1994 animated Disney classic The Lion King. 

In July this year, Matewa Media announced it would be re-releasing a Māori language editon of The Lion King and Frozen after the success of its collaboration with Walt Disney Studios in 2017, when Moana was released as Moana Reo Māori

JoJo Rabbit producer Chelsea Winstanley and Rurangi producer Tweedie Waititi have revealed that different mita (dialects) will be celebrated throughout the cast of beloved characters. 

The Lions will speak in the Tainui dialect, Timon and Pumbaa in Te Tai Tokerau, Rafki in Tūhoe, Zazu in Taranaki and the Hyenas in Ngāti Kahungunu. 

Translations have been completed by te reo Māori experts in each rohe (region). 

"You don't have to be from any particular rohe to audition, just like Moana Reo Māori we encourage everyone to have a go, Karawhiua!" Winstanley said in a statement. 

"But, you will be expected to pull it off nō reira kia kaha rā! Ko te mea nui ka ngākau nui koe ki te reo Māori" Waititi added. 

For the online first round auditions, each character will have a different audition piece, and some will require participants to also sing in te reo Māori. Waititi and Winstanley have advised that all levels of Reo Māori fluency are welcome. 

Lion King Reo Māori is planned for release in June 2022, to align with Matariki, while Frozen Reo Māori will arrive three months later in September, coinciding with Te Wiki o te Reo Māori - Māori Language Week.