Taika Waititi - Victoria University Award — 14.04.11

Taika Waititi is one of Victoria University's six Distinguished Alumni Award winners who were honoured on 14 April for making an "outstanding contribution in their field".

The other winners of Victoria University's Distinguished Alumni Awards are former Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast, Privy Council judge Sir Thomas Gault, technology entrepreneur Rod Drury, artist Piera McArthur and tax accountant John Shewan.

Taika Waititi studied theatre and graduated from Victoria in 1997 with a bachelor of arts.

He said that, although he felt touched by the acknowledgment, "I do feel a bit like I'm getting honoured for taking the most easy course available at university, so I [sort of] feel like I'm cheating a little bit".

While the university provided a great creative education, Waititi also got a social education.

"I think ... part of life skills is also socialising ... I think many people make the mistake of not going out ... you can spend a little bit too much time with your nose in your book or with your fingers on a keyboard, and you miss out."

Waititi said one of the highlights of university was the great people he had met, with whom he had remained close friends, including "New Zealand's foremost expert on Shakespeare", David Lawrence, Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, and playwright Jo Randerson.

Victoria was a great place to attend, he said, though he had one suggestion: "If they moved it off the top of that hill, it would be great ... and closer to the cafes on Cuba St."

Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh said all the alumni had made an exceptional contribution to their disciplines, and to New Zealand as a whole.

Source: Stuff