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The Metkayina are an oceanic Na'vi clan located on Pandora's reefs on the Eastern Sea. Of the over 50 reef clans, the Metkayina are the largest.[1] The clan is led by Tonowari and Ronal, who live in the clan's main village, Awa'atlu.[2]

Culture and Habitat[]

Metkayina island jungle AVE

Jungle on the islands of the Metkayina

The Metkayina live along the shores of the Pandoran oceans, on islands or near the mainland.[3] Their homes are marui pods which are built into the roots of mangrove-like trees spanning the islands. These homes hang directly above the water presumably for easy access for swimming. Massive seawall terraces, similar in appearance to travertine terraces, guard the villages from strong waves and provide an easy place for the clan to fish. Some of the Metkayina villages have existed for thousands of years. Structures are constantly renewed but seldom replaced. The main village of Awa'atlu is protected by a seawall 6 kilometers in radius.[4] It has small docks for canoes, a centralized ilu pen and communal areas for gathering, eating and the telling of tales and singing of songs.

The islands of the Metkayina and the waters surrounding them are home to many unique specimens of fauna and flora, such as the dorado verde, pincer fish, and papa mantis tree. The Cove of the Ancestors is an area sacred to the Metkayina and houses their primary sacred site, the Spirit Tree.

This clan makes use of its extensive and diverse habitat in many ways and has a close relationship with water.

Tsireya's Tulkun

Tsireya with her spirit sister

The Metkayina have a close relationship with tulkuns, sentient, whale-like creatures of Pandora, and are able to communicate with them. The Metkayina consider them to be their siblings, with each member having a tulkun "spirit brother/sister", and share their religion.

Just as clans such as the Omatikaya and Olangi ride direhorses to trek the landmasses of Pandora, the Metkayina use ilu as their companion of choice for gliding across the Pandoran oceans.[5]

During combat, skilled hunters of the Metkayina ride the skimwing; taming one is also a rite of passage into adulthood, similar to how some mainland Na'vi clans must tame an ikran as they come of age.

They use Na'vi Sign Language to communicate with each other underwater, as well as with the tulkun.


Tonowari convincing Ronal

Tonowari with facial tattoos

The clan, like other reef clans, practices the art of tattooing. All of the tattoos are unique to the individual and chronicle their life. The locations of each tattoo carry a symbolic meaning: tattoos over the heart and chest symbolize the safe embrace of the central island. Arm tattoos represent the more exposed protective shield of the seawall. Thus, a hunter of the deep sea has densely tattooed arms and less on their chest.

The tattoos are considered a gift both from Eywa and the clan and are created with inks from special animals. The Olo'eyktan has the most intricate tattoos within the clan, spanning much of their body. Members receive their first tattoo after they complete all of their rites of passage into adulthood.


Tulkun and child

A Metkayina infant during First Breath

One of their rituals for newborns is known as First Breath (or Syeha'awve). This a highly symbolic birth ritual that takes place with the participation of the entire clan. It takes place in shallow water, and the Tsahìk helps the mother give birth to a child that emerges directly from the womb into the water. This is a symbol of Metkayina's deep connection to water, which is their second home. The newborn then has to swim out of the water on its own, which is a symbolic transition from this element to air. The name of the ritual refers to the first breath the child takes after surfacing.

Much like Omatikaya clan teenagers, young Metkayina members must complete a number of coming-of-age rituals, known to the Na'vi as iknimaya, before they can be considered adults. One of these rites includes bonding with a tsurak (skimwing), others are various tests with their tulkun spirit brother or sister. Once a Metkayina has completed all of these rites, they are bestowed with a special garment, their first tattoo, and three beads for their songcord.


Metkayina anatomia

The Metkayina have adapted seemingly for an aquatic lifestyle, bearing considerable differences from mainland Na'vi. Their eyes are enlarged considerably and feature a blue or green color rather than yellow, their forearms and lower legs have expanded to include a fin-like structure known as a 'strake', and the tails are broadened to form a paddle shape and lack a tuft of hair at the end. They also have a nictitating membrane, or 'third eyelid'. Stronger upper bodies can be observed, especially in males, who also possess a slightly different chest structure from mainland males.

Curly hair appears to be the norm within the clan. Their skin also sways to a more cyan or turquoise color than the traditional blue, with fluid, ripple-like stripes. Like Terran sharks and other marine creatures, the Metkayina have distinct areas of lighter coloration on their underbellies and faces.


Arrival of the Sully Family[]

The Metkayina have presumably had little contact with humans, asides with an implication they have interacted with Ian Garvin. However, they were aware of the tulkun hunting operations by Cet-Ops, but were unable to interfere.

The arrival of the Sully family

The Sully family requesting uturu

The Metkayina clan took in the family of Jake Sully and Neytiri after they fled from the Omatikaya Clan so they won't be hunted by Miles Quaritch, and the rest of the RDA as Spider would given their location away, seeking uturu as the whole clan knew that they are known as forest people. Though they were still being hunted by Quaritch and his recom squad, the isolated location of the Metkayina allowed them to live there safely for several months, learning to adopt the oceanic ways of the clan. After Kiri experienced a seizure bonding with the Spirit Tree and fell into a coma, Jake contacted Norm Spellman and Max Patel who flew to Awa'atlu in a Samson to try and help. Although Kiri recovered, the crew's Samson was caught by the RDA's radar, allowing them to deduce an area the Sullys were likely hiding in.

The recom squad began interrogating the nearby reef clans, including the Ta'unui clan. Under the orders of Tonowari, the clans, as they don't know anything about Jake Sully, refused to give up information on him to the RDA, Quaritch and his squad. Although Spider said that forest people do not come to the water worlds, the RDA and the recom squad killed an ilu and burned down the village's marui. The clans were horrified by it.

With no success interrogating the clans, Quaritch, with the help of Mick Scoresby and Dr. Ian Garvin, decided to use a tulkun hunt to anger the Na'vi and draw Jake out of hiding. They successfully hunted and killed Ro'a, Ronal's spirit sister, along with her calf, and left floater devices on her body to ensure the Na'vi would find it. As predicted, the Metkayina, especially Ronal, were furious about the slaying and called for retaliation. Jake, however, talked them down, and told them to warn the tulkuns about the hunts.

Skirmish at the Three Brothers[]

Tonowari and Ronal prepare for battle

The Metkayina prepare to fight Cet-Ops

The tulkun whalers eventually found and stuck Payakan with a tracking beacon, which was discovered by Lo'ak. He, along with his siblings and friends, including the daughter of the Metkayina leaders, Tsireya, helped free Payakan, but they were captured by Quaritch and the recoms. After Jake and the Metkayina learned of this, they rallied a war party and raced to Three Brothers Rock to rescue the children. A battle ensued which ultimately ended in the destruction of the S-76 SeaDragon and rescue of Tsireya and the other children, but the death of Neteyam, Jake and Neytiri's first-born son.

Tonowari and Ronal funeral

The Metkayina hold Neteyam's funeral

After the conflict had ended, the Metkayina held a funeral for Neteyam and buried him at sea. Jake informed Tonowari the following day that he and his family would be leaving to seek refuge elsewhere, but Tonowari convinced him otherwise, pointing out Neteyam has been buried with their ancestors, and affirmed that they were now part of the Metkayina.

Known Members[]

Na'vi Status Title Portrait
Tonowari Alive Olo'eyktan of the Metkayina clan
Tonowari image
Ronal Alive Tsahìk of the Metkayina clan
Ronal Portrait
Tsireya Alive Ronal and Tonowari's daughter/Tsakarem/Free-diving teacher
Tsireya closeup
Aonung Alive Tonowari and Ronal's son/Hunter/Free-diver
Aonung Closeup
Rotxo Alive Aonung's best friend
Rotxo Closeup
Jake Sully Alive Former Olo'eyktan of Omatikaya clan/Refugee/Free-diver-in-training of Metkayina clan/Warrior
Jake Sully TWOW
Neytiri Alive Former Tsakarem of Omatikaya clan/Refugee/Free-diver-in-training of Metkayina clan/Warrior
Neytiri infobox
Lo'ak Alive Former Omatikaya clan member/Metkayina clan refugee/Free-diver-in-training/Warrior-in-training
Lo'ak infobox
Neteyam Deceased Former Omatikaya clan member/Metkayina clan refugee/Free-diver-in-training/Warrior
Neteyam portrait
Tuktirey Alive Former Omatikaya clan member/Metkayina clan refugee/Free-diver-in-training
Tuktirey profile
Kiri Alive Former Omatikaya clan member/Metkayina clan refugee/Free-diver-in-training


The Way of Water Tribal Still

Jake and Tonowari gripping forearms

  • The original script reveals the Metkayina way of handshakes involve them gripping forearms. This is why Jake and Tonowari do this in the ending in order to show Jake is accepted as a full member now. Aonung also did this with Lo'ak in an ironic way, as Aonung abandoned him in the ocean later.
  • It is a widespread misconception that the clan knows English despite their lack of contact with humans, to the degree people have mentioned it as a plot hole while leaving negative reviews for the film. However, it is not stated anywhere that the clan knows English and it is likely their language is simply translated for the sake of the audience, while they are still canonically speaking Na'vi in the story. In the beginning of the film, Jake watches his children argue in Na'vi and then they switch to the audience's language, commenting that language is like English to him (at least in the English version of the film).
  • According to one of the developers of the Na'vi language, the reef Na'vi speak a different dialect than the forest Na'vi.[6]
  • The clan having more cyan-colored skin instead of midnight blue is meant to parallel humanity's different skin colors, with producer Jon Landau commenting, "That's part of our world, [and] we look at what we're doing as a metaphor for our world."[7] For example, the scene where the Sully family is bullied for their different physical attributes can be seen as a metaphor for racism.
  • When Ronal accuses Lo'ak of having demon blood and shows his hand, one female member of the clan can be seen staring at her own hand in response, as if she is having an existential crisis or needs to remember how many fingers are on her hand. This has been joked about by viewers.
  • Metkayna

    Village on an island in Flight of Passage

    In Flight of Passage from the Pandora: The World of Avatar theme park, riders led by Valke fly over a village built on the seashore that is likely the home of the Metkayina or another reef clan.[citation needed]
  • The clan is known to be inspired by the Māori people of Earth, with Māori actors from the cast of the Avatar sequels working with James Cameron to incorporate elements of indigenous New Zealand cultures into the clan's customs and traditions. Notably, Cliff Curtis and James Cameron worked together to adapt a traditional haka dance into a Na'vi-inspired dance for the clan to perform, incorporating tail and ear movement.[8] The tattoos of the clan also resemble traditional Māori tattoos in placement and style.
  • The clan is also partially inspired by Melanesian and Sama Bajau people.[9][10]

See also[]