'The Lion King'. (Image: Walt Disney Animation Studios)

The first round of open auditions for The Lion King Reo Māori are now open, with people based in Australia welcome to apply.

The Māori-language version of the Disney animated film is being produced by Chelsea Winstanley (Merata, Jojo Rabbit) and Tweedie Waititi (Moana Reo Māori, Rūrangi) of Matewa Media.

It follows Moana Reo Māori, and a re-dubbing of Frozen is also planned.

“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,” said Kylie Watson-Wheeler, senior vice president and managing director of The Walt Disney Company Australia & New Zealand.

“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.”

As with Moana Reo Māori, Winstanley and Waititi will be working with Rachel House, who will act as performance director and musical director Rob Ruha.

A variety of dialects will be showcased, including Tainui (lions); Te Tai Tokerau (Timon, Pumbaa), Tūhoe (Rafiki), Taranaki (Zazu), Ngāti Kahungunu (Hyenas) and the chorus open to te motu whānui.

Translations have been completed by Te Reo Māori experts in each rohe (regions).

“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!” said Winstanley.

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

The Lion King Reo Māori is set to premiere in New Zealand and Australia in June 2022 to align with Matariki (Māori New Year).

Further information and audition materials are available on www.matewamedia.nz. Auditions close December 1.

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  1. Teena tatau te whanau! He uri teenei no tainui, noho nei ki ahiterieria! He tuku panui teenei Kia kotou nga Kai whakaata o teenei whakaturanga ki tooku ngakaunui tanga ki teenei whakaaturanga a me teenei o nga pakiwaitara hoki! Ina te taia e au hei kanohi moo teenei o nga momo whakaaturanga? No reira e akiaki ana Kia koutou tee whakaarongia Kia ahei te tuu hei kanohi moo koutou. Naaku noa! Maru.

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