Last week, acclaimed filmmaker and all round Kiwi legend Taika Waititi was named as this year's New Zealander Of The Year.
Acknowledged for his multiple successes that include writing, acting, directing and being a comedian, Waititi was also honored for his contribution for his engagement with New Zealand youth. This involvement includes him raising awareness of core issues within our society such as child poverty and youth suicide.
These acknowledgments make Taika Waititi an 'exciting and inspiring example of who and what we are as Kiwis... and a thoroughly worthy recipient of this year’s supreme award,' said chief judge, Cameron Bennett.
Unable to attend the event, as the Hunt for the Wilderpeople director is currently in Los Angeles filming, his wife Chelsea Winstanley proudly accepted the prestigious award on his behalf.
Waititi, however, sent his thanks through a classic comedic style video from the US, stating: 'I'm sorry I couldn't be there to celebrate, I'm stuck in Los Angeles. This is actually a cry for help, this video. I need you guys to come and get me, they won't let me out. You know they wanted me to say that they're treating me well. The meals are too big and everything's too loud here, the accents, it's horrible.'
The finalists of the award amongst Waititi included research professor and educator Mere Berryman and principal advisor for the Salvation Army’s Social Policy & Parliamentary Unit Major Campbell Roberts in which whom he humbly shared the award with.
'I share this award with the other finalists, Mere Berryman and Major Campbell Roberts. You guys do amazing work and I'm proud to be included in this group with you guys, and also the other nominees. I think we're all striving to make New Zealand a better place through our work and through our love of our country,' he stated.
Waititi is an inspiring and influential figure clearly deserving of this award and we couldn't be more proud of his work and contribution that he's given to Aotearoa.