"As an artist I have a wide range of creative outlets. Perhaps it's an inability to sit still, to explore a single form or medium to its ultimate end. Perhaps it's the coffee. I think it's because I'm an artist who expresses himself in whatever medium is readily at hand. There are so many interesting ways to create worlds and beings, how can someone only be interested in one method? It's like only cooking with leeks and onions. Though I guess some people can do thing with just leeks and onions that, when eaten, would change your world view or break your heart. Personally, I need a lot of different ingredients to do that."

Born in 1975, Taika Waititi also goes under the surname Cohen. He comes from the Raukokore region of the East Coast and has been involved in the arts for several years, as a visual artist, actor, writer and director.

As a performer and comedian, Taika has been a driving force in some of New Zealand's most innovative and successful productions. With a strong background in comedy writing and performing (with fellow comedian Jemaine Clement), Taika has won New Zealand's top comedy awards, the Billy T Award and the Spirit of the Fringe Award in Edinburgh. Taika regularly undertook stand up gigs around the New Zealand and in 2004 launched his solo production, Taika's Incredible Show which he says "wasn't that incredible but had a cool poster which I drew myself". Taika has been critically acclaimed for his dramatic abilities being nominated for Best Actor at the 2000 Nokia Film Awards for his role in the Sarkies Brothers' film Scarfies.

Taika's short film, Two Cars, One Night, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005. His next short, Tama Tu, about a group of Māori soldiers in Italy during World War II, won a string of international awards, and became eligible for Oscar nomination.

 
 A scene from the short film Tama Tu, written and directed by Taika Waititi


Taika spent two years in Berlin working and exhibiting in the Schliemann 40 House and spent several years experimenting with photography and painting. He illustrated Jo Randerson's book of short stories The Keys to Hell and collaborated with the architectural firm Wraight & Associates on a proposal for Wellington City Council's Wellington Gateway project.

Taika was one of five inaugural recipients of the Arts Foundation's New Generation Award announced in 2006.

 
Taika receives his $25,000 cheque at the 2006 Arts Foundation New Generation Awards ceremony
Image by Robert Catto


Taika's first feature, Eagle vs. Shark, was released in 2007 with a video release early in 2008. He won best screenwriter for the film at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. On the eve of the film's debut screening at the Sundance Film Festival Taika was named as one of 10 directors "to watch" by Variety magazine. He was also took the Award for Best Director for the film at the 2008 Qantas Film and Television Awards.

Taika directed two episodes of Flight of the Conchords a twelve-part comedy series, created by and starring his friends Jermaine Clement and Brett McKenzie, for the American cable channel HBO.

Taika's 2010 feature length film, Boy, is an exploration of some of the characters and ideas introduced in his Oscar-nominated debut short Two Cars, One Night.  The film was shot in the Bay of Plenty.  Following its release, Boy became the highest grossing local film in New Zealand history.  He attended the 2012 Berlinale and CineMart in Rotterdam with his new film project (currently in development) Jojo Rabbit (2012).

In 2013, Waititi co-directed the New Zealand-based vampire comedy mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows with friend and fellow comedian Jemaine Clement; Waititi starred as Viago. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014.

Waititi's fourth feature, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival to great reception, leading him to be chosen to direct the Marvel Studios film Thor: Ragnarok

In 2017 Taika was announced as the New Zealander of the year and said "he owes a lot of his success to the support of his parents, who never forced him to get a "real job"." In the same year at the annual Matariki Awards celebrating Maori achievement, Takika took home the Te Tohu Tiketike o Matariki Supreme Award as well as Te Waipuna-ā-Rangi Award for Arts and Entertainment.

Video

2010
Music video Poi E was released from the hit New Zealand movie 'Boy' by Taika Waititi - courtesy Whenua Films NZ
2010
Watch the trailer to Taika's new film 'Boy' here!
2008
New Generation artist Taika Waititi talks about the writing process and directing of his feature film 'Eagle Vs Shark'.
1975
    Born, New Zealand
2000  
  Nominated for Best Actor at the 2000 Nokia Film Awards for his role in the Sarkies Brothers' film Scarfies
2004
   Launched solo production, Taika's Incredible Show
2005 
   Short film, Two Cars, One Night, was nominated for an Academy
2006
    One of five inaugural Arts Foundation New Generation Award recipients
2007 
   First feature, Eagle vs. Shark released
2008  
  Won best screenwriter for Eagle vs. Shark at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival;was named as one of 10 directors "to watch" by Variety magazine;won Award for Best Director at theQantas Film and Television Awards
2009 
   Directed two episodes of Flight of the Conchords
2010
    Feature film Boy became highest grossing local film in NZ history
2011  
  Directs episodes of a remake of hit British comedy The Inbetweeners;Stars as Tom Kalmaku in feature film The Green Lantern
2013
Co-directed What We Do in the Shadows, also starring as Viago.
2014
What We Do in the Shadows, premieres at the Sundance Film Festival.
2016
Waititi's fourth feature, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, premieres at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival & is added to the Tribeca Film Festival lineup, New York. Chosen to direct the Marvel Studios film Thor: Ragnarok. Hunt for the Wilderpeople wins the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Montclair Film Festival.
2017
Announced as New Zealander of the Year Recipient of the Te Tohu Tiketike o Matariki Supreme Award as well as Te Waipuna-ā-Rangi Award for Arts and Entertainment at the annual Matariki Awards celebrating Maori achievement.