I have crossed the horizon to find you...I know your name...they have stolen the heart from inside you...but this does not define you. This is not who you are...you will know who you are...who you truly are.
~ Moana reminding Te Kā of her former identity.
Te Kā is the main antagonist of Disney's 56th full-length animated feature film Moana. She was once the benevolent island goddess Te Fiti, but after her heart was stolen by the demi-god Maui, she became a destructive lava demon.
Te Kā is (quite literally) a heartless and destructive creature with a fiery disposition. The theft of her heart has stripped her of Te Fiti's benevolence, replacing it with malice aimed at both Maui and the world at large. Te Kā and Te Fiti are polar opposites with differing goals and ideals; while Te Fiti wishes to spread life and beauty, Te Kā seeks to bring death and corruption, purely out of the belief that mankind is undeserving of the gifts brought to them by Te Fiti. As it was Maui who was responsible for the theft of Te Fiti's heart (and not mankind as a whole, thus making them innocent), Te Kā can be painted as a vindictive and (arguably) purely evil entity.
Despite this, Te Fiti's purity lies deep within Te Kā. Should someone call to this aspect, as Moana does during the climax, she will slowly ease her tension and succumb to her inner gentle nature.
Massive in size, Te Kā towers above all who encounter her and is usually depicted with a hollow scowl. Always surrounding her slender form is a dense pyrocumulus cloud, coupled with bolts of lightning and volcanic ash.
However, in her true form as Te Fiti, she is depicted as a giant woman with her body made out of green vegetation, which she uses to spread life in islands to make them inhabitable to creatures and people around the ocean.
Role in the film
Te Kā first appears in Gramma Tala's story, where it is revealed that she was once the island goddess Te Fiti, who created all islands on the ocean with her heart, who had the ability to create life. She then placed herself into an eternal slumber, with her body forming into an island. However, one day, Te Fiti's heart was stolen by the demigod Maui in a misguided act of heroism. As a result of this, the island was quickly consumed by darkness, while Te Fiti's physical form morphed into that of the deadly and powerful Te Kā.
As Maui tried to escape on his boat, Te Kā rose from her cloud and attacked the demigod. Their battle resulted in the loss of both the heart and Maui's fish hook which was later recovered by the giant crab Tamatoa and added to his collection of treasures. Also, because of the loss of the heart, all the islands that Te Kā has created were cursed, slowly causing the destruction of food supply, flora, and fauna, thus making it impossible for humanity to survive. According to legend, only the restoration of Te Fiti's heart can save the world from annihilation.
3,000 years later, Moana (the film's protagonist) finally reaches Te Fiti with Maui after helping the latter to retrieve his fish hook from Tamatoa and defeat the Kakamora from stealing the heart. During the journey, Maui confesses to Moana his reason for stealing Te Fiti's heart: because he wanted to give it to humanity as a gift (due to his tragic upbringing caused by his parents, who attempted to drown him when he was an human infant).
But before they can reach the shores of Te Fiti, Te Kā emerges and attacks them. Maui then turns into a hawk and tries to fly past her, only to be struck from the sky several times. He is soon weakened too severely and orders Moana to turn the boat around. Not wanting to back away from her mission and confident that she can succeed, Moana continues to sail towards Te Fiti and directly by Te Kā, who tries to smite the duo. Maui quickly blocks her blow with his fish hook, but the impact blasts him and Moana miles away from Te Fiti and severely damages the boat. When they recover, Maui finds his fish hook severely damaged and nearly destroyed. Furious at Moana for endangering their lives despite his orders to turn away, and knowing that one more blow from Te Kā to his hook will destroy it forever, Maui leaves her.
Despite this, after an inspirational visit from the spirit of Gramma Tala, Moana refuses to give up. She repairs her boat and sails back to Te Fiti, once again sailing up to the gap. Te Kā immediately reappears and raises a fist to destroy the boat, but Moana steers toward another gap, barely avoiding the blow. When Te Kā catches up to her, she sails back to the first gap. However, Te Kā sends a giant wave at Moana, causing her boat to capsize. With boulders raining down around her, Moana tries to right her boat but she isn't strong enough. Te Kā aims a killing blow at Moana but at the last second Maui returns - having had a change of heart - and parries the blow. He then distracts Te Kā again while Moana reaches the island of Te Fiti although her boat is destroyed by Te Kā in the process.
Unfortunately, Moana cannot find the spiral in which the heart is to be placed as the entire island is actually gone. At this moment, Moana notices the swirling spiral in Te Kā's chest and comes to an extremely stunning and impressive realization: Te Kā is actually Te Fiti without her heart. Meanwhile, Maui continues to fight, despite his fish hook having been destroyed. This enrages Te Kā immensely, and the lava demon conjures a massive fireball to kill the demigod once for all. Just as Maui is about to accept his fate in order to protect Moana, the latter gains Te Kā's attention by shining the heart of Te Fiti's light in the distance. Moana also asks the ocean to clear a path, allowing Te Kā to lunge at her. But, Moana sings "Know Who You Are" to calm the fury of Te Kā, who finds peace in Moana's inspiring words. She turns herself into molten rock, and Moana places the heart into the spiral of Te Kā's chest.
With the heart finally restored, Te Kā ceases to exist as the molten rock crumbles into pieces, reverting to her true form as Te Fiti. Maui then apologizes to Te Fiti for stealing her heart, admitting that he was wrong and that he has no excuses for doing so. Content that Maui learned his lesson, Te Fiti warmly forgives him and revives the dying islands across the world, as well as Moana's boat and Maui's fish hook. Afterwards, Te Fiti forms back into her resting position.
Powers and Abilities
As an island goddess, Te Fiti has the ability to produce and generate life, as she can instantly grow plants (both flora and fauna) around barren lands with a single touch and manipulate her body to form a terrain during her slumber. She also has the power to recreate objects that were previously destroyed, such as Maui's fish-hook and Moana's boat.
However, as Te Kā, she has the power to control magma, fire and lava, so that she can produce and throw out fireballs to destroy any obstacles and turn any matter into molten rock. She is also proven to have superhuman strength, as she can overpower the capacity of demigods such as Maui himself.
Te Kā originally was supposed to look more humanoid in early concept art.
Te Kā is depicted as one of Maui's tattoos, as the aftermath of their battle for the heart of Te Fiti is illustrated on the latter's back.
Her name means "the burning one" in Maori. The development name for Te Kā/Te Fiti, "Te Po", means "the dark one" in the same language. "Kā" is also a possessive particle in most Polynesian languages, which fits the character's loss of identity.
Te Kā is probably the largest and one of the most powerful and dangerous Disney Villains, because she is completely covered by magma and lava.