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ONZM ‘a big deal’ for Taika

IT’s not an Academy Award but actor, director and screenplay writer Taika Waititi says his Queen’s Birthday honour is “a big deal” when it comes to recognition of the entertainment industry.

Mr Waititi has been appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to film.

Of Te Whanau-a-Apanui descent, Mr Waititi spent time growing up in Waihau Bay before shifting to Wellington.

In an interview on TV3’s The Project, he said getting such an honour from the Queen was not something you grew up thinking about “but when it’s presented to you it’s quite nice”.

In his uniquely quirky way, Mr Waititi thanked the Queen.

“I know she’s got a lot going on on her birthday so to make the list . . . it’s a big deal.

“It’s becoming more special to me because sometimes I feel like film isn’t as important as more socially impactful rebels and healthcare, and people who are really making a difference.

“But then the world does need entertainment and storytelling, otherwise the world would be a boring place, so you’ve gotta have art.

“I think we’re all doing our part in our own way.”

Mr Waititi has achieved national and international success, culminating in an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for his 2019 film Jojo Rabbit.

He gained prominence for his 2004 short film Two Cars, One Night, which was nominated for an Academy Award and won several international film festival awards.

His feature film Boy (2010) became the highest-grossing New Zealand film, a record that was surpassed by his 2016 hit film Hunt for the Wilderpeople, which broke records for a New Zealand film in its opening weekend.

Earlier films Eagle vs Shark and What We Do In The Shadows were received with critical acclaim, as well as his major Hollywood directorial debut Thor: Ragnarok.

He is set to direct and co-write a new Star Wars feature film.

ANOTHER HONOUR: Following his Academy Award success for the movie Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. AP picture