• Moana is Disney's first ever princess from the South Pacific (Walt Disney Animation Studios)Source: Walt Disney Animation Studios
A young Native Hawaiian girl discovered in a serendipitous encounter has been announced to play the next Disney princess, Moana.
By
Andrea Booth

8 Oct 2015 - 12:47 PM  UPDATED 8 Oct 2015 - 1:29 PM

The lead character of Moana, Walt Disney's animated feature set for 2016, will be played by 14-year-old Auli’I Cravalho of Mililani, Hawaii, the entertainment giant confirmed Thursday.

Moana is Walt Disney's first ever princess from the South Pacific.

"When I first heard that there was going to be an audition to potentially play the role of Moana, I thought there’s no way that could be me," Auli'l said in a Walt Disney media video.

Casting director Rachael Sutton said she felt lucky to have crossed paths with the youngster. "Auli'l was the very last girl that I saw, on my last day of casting," casting director Rachel Sutton said in the video.

The story is set 3,000 years ago in the South Pacific where the heroine embarks upon a voyage across the oceans to fulfil a request from her ancestors and encounters everything from mythical creatures to the demi-god Maui.

Actor and former wrestler Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson, who will play the voice of Maui, said he was ecstatic to have her on board the production, especially because she could have remained undiscovered.

"Work hard, have confidence in yourselves and never think you're not good enough because you never know what the future holds"

"What's amazing about this story is that she didn’t think she was good enough so she never auditioned," Mr Johnson wrote in a Facebook post. "Fortunately, one of our Oahu casting agents discovered her singing at a charity competition and the rest is history."

Mr Johnson said her story was a lesson for the youth of the world.

"Work hard, have confidence in yourselves and never think you're not good enough because you never know what the future holds."

Moana is set for Australian release 26 December, 2016.