Woke daddy/excellent director of Thor: Ragnarok and Hunt for The Wilderpeople, Taika Waititi, has called out his homeland – the nation of kiwi birds and endless Lord of the Rings references, New Zealand – as “racist as fuck” in a recent interview with Dazed & Confused and Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s Ruban Nielson.
Dazed‘s writer said he envisioned NZ as like “Australia without the racism and the blokeish sense of humour” (ouch, but probs fair), to which Waititi let rip:
Nah, 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. There’s still profiling when it comes to Polynesians. It’s not even a colour thing – like, ‘Oh, there’s a black person.’ It’s, ‘If you’re Poly then you’re getting profiled.’
Nielson went on to say that, despite his success as a musician, he still goes home and gets “treated worse“: “It’s like people want to remind you – ‘Yeah, but you’re still Polynesian, so…’”
It’s something big shot (see: humble as hell) Hollywood director Waititi describes as “patronising“: “They’re like, ‘Oh, you’ve done so well, haven’t you? For how you grew up. For one of your people.’”
In the same interview, Waititi said that, while he cherishes his memories of growing up in rural New Zealand, “it was actually pretty shit, growing up poor in the country“. He goes on to say, that as a half-Polynesian kid, he was accused of being a “glue-sniffer“.
Growing up it was very normal to go into a store and they would say, ‘What do you want?’ And you’d be like, (muttering) ‘I’m just looking at chips, man.’ I remember getting a job at a dairy [corner shop] and they would never give me a job at the till, I was always at the back washing vegetables. And then one day one of the owners asked me if I sniffed glue – like, ‘Are you a glue-sniffer?’ In my head I was like, ‘Motherfucker, you grew up with my mum!’ And I knew for sure that he didn’t ask other kids in the store if they were glue-sniffers.
Nielson said when he heads home, he is more aggressive in his correct pronunciation of Maori names around people who refuse to do so properly.
“Yeah. Because because they don’t mispronounce French words, do they? They can say fucking ‘Camembert’ properly,” joked-not-joked Waititi.
Last year, New Zealander of the Year Waititi featured in an anti-racism PSA for NZ Human Rights – a campaign that has also featured comedian Rhys Darby and Crowded House‘s Neil Finn.
I’m calling on all kiwis to help me support a very important cause…racism.#GiveNothingtoRacism 😐 https://t.co/yYZtDGH1Hm pic.twitter.com/pg0AYR7PNI
— Taika Waititi (@TaikaWaititi) June 15, 2017