Director Taika Waititi says his homeland of New Zealand is the “best place on the planet” but also “racist as fuck”.
In a recent interview with Dazed, the director of Thor: Ragnarok spoke about growing up in New Zealand and the racism he faced as someone of mixed Maori and white heritage.
“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,’” says the Kiwi filmmaker.
Waititi continues, “People in Auckland are very patronising. They’re like, ‘Oh, you’ve done so well, haven’t you? For how you grew up. For one of your people.’”
Reaction to Waititi’s comments has led to an open discussion on social media sharing their own experiences of racism they had experienced in New Zealand – one particular thread highlighted the disrespectful language used in their workplace against Maori people, and wider examples of racism and xenophobia.
Is NZ racist? It depends who you believe -Taika Waititi, or the people yelling at him to be more grateful
— Francis McRae (@FrankMcRae) April 9, 2018
Man, you so right, casual racism is alive and well in Auckland. Myself, @45 years old I learnt it first hand from my Nana. But I learnt a better way, mate I found a location where the water shined. #next level
— Kurt Lorenzen (@KurtLorenzen2) April 9, 2018
I agree with @TaikaWaititi saying NZ is racist. As a #Biosecurity officer, I once took a phone call from a lady who wanted to know why Māori were living in the cities now days. In her day, Māori lived in the country and didn’t bother people.
— Thomas Malcolm (@PunaConsultants) April 9, 2018
New Zealand’s race relations commissioner, Dame Susan Devoy, praised his comments.
“I hear those stories every day in my role as race relations commissioner,” she said on TVNZ’s Breakfast show. “These are things that happen every day in our communities. And good on Taika for having the courage to speak up and tell the truth.”
“He said first and foremost we live in one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. We also live in one of the most peaceful, and yes we have an issue with racism. We need to start having those hard conversations about racism, and that’s what he’s doing, if we want to improve as a country.”
The country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern responded to the comments. “Is there racism in New Zealand? Undeniably. Is there racism in most countries? Undeniably. Can we do better? Yes.”
Last year, the director joined in an anti-racism campaign New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission, which has reported that instances of racism are on the rise in the country.
Do you think New Zealand racist?