Taika Waititi honoured in Queen's birthday list for services to film

Tom Butler
Senior Editor
Taika Waititi attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. (David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Taika Waititi, the Oscar-winning director of Jojo Rabbit and Thor: Ragnarok, has been honoured for his ‘services to film’ on New Zealand’s Queen’s birthday list.

The 44-year-old has been made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Waititi is of Māori descent and hails from the coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

He made his feature film directing debut in 2007 with the homegrown comedy Eagle vs Shark and has made a number of films in his native country including Boy, What We Do In The Shadows and The Hunt For The Wilderpeople.

Wilderpeople and Boy are the two highest-grossing films ever at the New Zealand box office.

Read more: Waititi says he’d be fired from Star Wars ‘within a week’

Talking on Radio New Zealand (via the Guardian), Waititi said the award meant a lot to him, citing the New Zealand-set Boy as his proudest achievement.

“Personally I make my stuff for New Zealanders first and foremost,” the filmmaker said. “They are my first audience. My peers and colleagues, to be recognised by them, people who are closer to my home, is more significant.”

Taika Waititi, Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth on the set of Thor: Ragnarok (Credit: Marvel/Disney)

Earlier this year Waititi – who also directed Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok – won the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award for his anti-fascist satire Jojo Rabbit.

In his speech he dedicated the award to "all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art and dance and write stories. We are the original storytellers and we can make it here as well."

Waititi is currently in post-production on Next Goal Wins, a comedy drama starring Michael Fassbender, which follows the attempt of the American Somoa football team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. He’s developing a new Star Wars film, an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for Netflix, and Thor: Love and Thunder for Marvel.

He also directed the critically acclaimed season finale of Disney+ series The Mandalorian.