Te-Ka and Te-Fiti: A Metaphor for
Good and Evil

Written by Rida Tahir on Jan 31, 2021 (7 min read)

Some movies touch a chord in our hearts, some shake our souls, some teach us important life lessons, some alter our thought process, some leave a lasting impression on our minds and some change our lives forever. Moana (2016) is the movie that did all of this for me.

Te-Ka and Te-Fiti are my favorite characters in this movie. What's interesting about them is that they are not two different entities, but two different or alternate forms of the same entity. Te-Fiti is the original form, whose power lies in her heart, but when her heart is stolen, she transforms into Te-Ka. When the heart is restored, Te-Ka morphs back into her original form i.e. Te-Fiti.

The characters of Te-Ka and Te-Fiti are a powerful metaphor for good and evil and there are so many ways to interpret it. Here's how I interpret it:

We all have two sides: Te-Ka and Te-Fiti.

Te-Ka is evil. Angry, aggressive, full of rage, darkness and despair, she is ready to destroy anything that comes in her way. She symbolizes all kinds of negative emotions such as guilt, regret, envy, jealousy, hatred, etc.

Te-Fiti is good. Calm, kind, generous, peace-loving, and forgiving and full of love, light and hope, she is the epitome of life and beauty. She symbolises all kinds of positive emotions such as happiness, awe, serenity and forgiveness.

When I say that we all have Te-Ka and Te-Fiti in us, what I mean is that we all are capable of both, good and evil. We all have a monster inside us. We all do bad things in our lives. Our default or original form is good, pure, and full of love. But when life doesn't treat us well, or something bad happens to us, or we hit rough patches in life or we are wronged or we go through a series of misfortunate events, the Te-Ka in us takes over and we become bitter and angry and start hating everyone and everything. We blame the circumstances, engage in self-pity, rage a mental war against everyone who has wronged us and keep replaying our painful memories. What we don't realise is, it’s not our past that is hurting is. It’s our own selves i.e. we are hurting ourselves by allowing the Te-Ka in us to take over Te-Fiti.

And guess who is the one in control? YOU! You have power over both Te-Ka and Te-Fiti. You can choose which of them will be dominant and which will be dormant.

You can choose for Te-Ka to take over by letting your darkness overpower you and letting your emotions control you… by dwelling in your past, ruminating over your mistakes, regrets and guilt... by playing the blame game and breeding hatred and grudges for those who wronged you… by spreading negativity all around you, ultimately ruining your inner peace and destroying everything that comes in your way.

OR you can choose for Te-Fiti to take over, by not letting your emotions get the best of you...by letting go of your past, moving on and learning from your mistakes... by wholeheartedly forgiving those who wronged you... by cultivating inner peace, finding ways to be happy and spreading love, kindness and positivity, transforming everything that you touch into something beautiful, ultimately transforming yourself in to a new, better version of you.

The most interesting part of this movie is the climax when Moana restores the heart of Te-Fiti and tells her something that makes the angry Te-Ka calm down, cool off and morph back into Te-Fiti. Here's what she says:

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 know who you are. Who you truly are.

Being the saddest, most beautiful and awe-inspiring scene in the movie, it also sends a very powerful message, in fact multiple messages, about not letting people bring out the worst in you and turn you into something you're not, not allowing your past to ruin your present and future, and about not judging someone without knowing their story and their painful past that has turned them into the monster they are. It shows us that there is hope even for people who seem damaged beyond repair, that people can change, they can have a change of heart, they can be saved and restored to their former selves.
Sometimes people who we think are evil are like that because of their circumstances. They have been hurt so badly in their life that they lost their true self (Te-Fiti) and adopted an alternate self (Te-Ka). They are vicious and violent on the outside but their inner self is in agony. Yes, they do have the choice to not let what happened to them affect them so much and change who they are, but they don't realize they have that choice and so they travel too far...so far from their true selves that they have to cross horizons to find their true selves again.

Or if they are lucky, someone will come into their life and show them that their true self (Te-Fiti) is still alive and breathing somewhere deep inside and just needs to be reactivated, and they will realize they do have the choice. Once they realize that, they can choose to morph back from their alternate self (Te-Ka) to their true self (Te-Fiti).

This person, who helps deactivate the Te-Ka in us and reactivate the Te-Fiti, is our Moana, our messiah, our knight in the shining armour, our guardian angel. They come into our lives to help us find our true selves. They give us a chance, set us free, bring out the best in us and change us for the better. If you find someone like that, know that they are a real blessing and you are very lucky. This is the kind of people you need to be spending your time with and having meaningful conversations with.

All it takes is one person, call it Moana or guardian angel or whatever, to pull us from the depths of darkness and despair and lead us to the path of light, peace and happiness. And you can be that person for anyone you think is damaged and can't be fixed. Just look beyond what you can see with your naked eyes and go beyond the surface to dig deeper and peel off layers of pain, hatred and negativity to reveal their true inner selves. You need to truly believe there is a Te-Fiti hidden inside that person and just needs to be found and activated. So be empathetic, give people a chance and set them free.

Some people come into our lives to ruin us and change us for the worse. Intentionally or unintentionally, they trigger the Te-Ka in us. They bring out the worst in us, take everything from us and leave us broken and trapped, ultimately causing our true selves (Te-Fiti) to be buried in the depths of our subconscious while the Te-Ka in us takes over completely. If you find someone like this, know that they are toxic and you need to stay away from them. They can be family, friends, bosses or colleagues. Whoever they are, you need to keep them at a distance and all interaction at a minimum.

Sometimes, however, we are the one who brings out the worst in others, but we don’t realize it. We hurt others and even ruin other people's lives, because we have blind spots; we either don't realize when we're being or doing evil or we think we are doing the right thing even if it is evil. Sometimes we act unconsciously, not knowing the consequences of our actions. Other times, it's because the Te-Ka in us has taken over and we are unable to recognize that.

Whenever you feel that you have lost your true self (Te-Fiti) and the Te-Ka in you has taken over (in the form of anger, guilt, regrets, hate, etc.), please know that this is not who you are. Your past does not define you. Your mistakes don't define you. Whatever happened to you, no matter how tragic, or whatever you did, no matter how horrible, it doesn't define you. And whoever you are, whichever phase of life you are right now, know that the Te-Fiti in you is still alive. You just need to reactivate it.

How? Just look into the mirror and say to yourself, out loud:

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 know who you are
Who you truly are.