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Taika Waititi says his home country of New Zealand is the “best place on the planet” but also “racist as fuck”.
In a candid interview with Dazed and Confused magazine, the director of Thor: Ragnarok and Kiwi classics such as Boy, What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, spoke at length about growing up in New Zealand and the racism he faced as someone of mixed Maori and white heritage. “It’s racist as fuck. I mean, I think New Zealand is the best place on the planet, but it’s a racist place.”
“People just flat-out refuse to pronounce Maori names properly,” he added.
Waititi also spoke about the endemic racial profiling in New Zealand, particularly of Maori or Polynesian people. “There’s still profiling when it comes to Polynesians. It’s not even a color thing — like, ‘Oh, there’s a black person.’ It’s, ‘If you’re Poly then you’re getting profiled.’”
He also said that his experience of growing up poor soured parts of his childhood. “I really cherish the memories of how I grew up, [but] it was actually pretty shit, growing up poor in the country,” said Waititi.
Last year, Waititi made a PSA web video against racism for New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission. The satirical video (see below) mocked traditional celeb-endorsed charity appeals and implored people to give their time to racism, as it “needs your help to survive.”
Waititi’s next film, Jojo Rabbit, tackles Nazi-era Germany. The film, which stars Scarlett Johansson, centers on a 10-year-old boy figuring out how to fit in in an increasingly fascistic Germany and creating an imaginary friend as a result. Johansson will play the boy’s mother, who doesn’t understand her child and the challenges he’s facing.
Asked if Jojo Rabbit was a “Nazi comedy,” Waititi told Dazed and Confused “that’s a very simplistic way of describing my film! There’s elements of comedy, and elements of Nazism.”
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