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Kiwi director Taika Waititi calls home country ‘racist’

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HE MAY be an Oscar nominee and a celebrated export of New Zealand but Hollywood director Taika Waititi has caused a storm in his homeland.

The Kiwi said his home country was “racist as f**k” in a UK magazine interview and the comments have even prompted a response from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today.

“I think New Zealand is the best place on the planet, but it’s a racist place,” the Thor: Ragnarok filmmaker told UK magazine Dazed and Confused.

“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.’”

The filmmaker added that people in New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, were “very patronising” for praising how well he has done “for one of his people.”

Waititi was named New Zealander of the Year in 2017 and last year the Maori-Jewish filmmaker fronted a campaign for New Zealand Human Rights.

In a tongue-in-cheek clip filmed for the campaign, Waititi said: “I’m calling on every one of my fellow Kiwis to help support a very important cause: Racism ... needs your help to survive.”

Ms Ardern waded into the debate this afternoon.

“I think probably you’d be hard-pressed to find a country that didn’t have racism in it, New Zealand is one of them,” said Ardern when asked how serious Waititi’s comments were by radio program The AM Show.

“Is there racism in New Zealand? Undeniably. Is there racism in most countries? Undeniably. Can we do better? Yes.”

According to New Zealand’s Human Right Commission, racism in the country is on the rise.

One in three complaints to the organisation are about racial discrimination, but it is believed that the majority of people who face humiliation or abuse do not complain.

“When someone like Taika Waititi comes out and speaks the truth and talks from experience, we as New Zealanders need to sit up and listen,” Devoy told TVNZ’s Breakfast show.

“Good on Taika for having the courage to speak up ... we need to actually understand that racism is an issue in New Zealand — and what are we going to do about it?

“I’ve seen criticism of him speaking out against things that aren’t favourable in New Zealand — I think he’s walking the talk — he’s showing humanity in action and highlighting an issue that he’s personally experienced and asking New Zealand to do better.”
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