Taika Waititi

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Taika Waititi
Taika Waititi at Sundance 2015.jpg
Taika Waititi speaking at 2015 Sundance Film Festival
Born Taika David Waititi
(1975-08-16) 16 August 1975 (age 40)
Wellington, New Zealand
Alma mater Victoria University of Wellington
Occupation Film director, screenwriter and comedian
Years active 1999 - present
Known for Eagle vs Shark, Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Green Lantern, Flight of the Conchords, Two Cars, One Night
Spouse(s) Chelsea Winstanley (1 child)

Taika Waititi (born 16 August 1975), also known as Taika Cohen, is a New Zealand film director, writer, painter, comedian, and actor.

He was nominated for an Academy Award for his 2004 short film Two Cars, One Night.

His 2010 film Boy became the top grossing film in New Zealand,[1][2] and was released internationally in 2012.


Waititi hails from the Raukokore area of the East Coast region of the northern island of New Zealand.[3] His father is Māori of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and his mother is Jewish.[4][5] Waititi used his mother's surname, "Cohen", for some of his work in film and writing.[6]


Comedy work[edit]

While a drama student at Victoria University of Wellington, Waititi was part of the five-member ensemble, So You're a Man, which toured New Zealand and Australia with some success.

He was one half of the comedy duo The Humourbeasts alongside Jemaine Clement – recipients of New Zealand's highest comedy accolade, the Billy T Award, in 1999.


His 2003 short film Two Cars, One Night earned him an Academy Award nomination. At the awards ceremony, he famously feigned falling asleep as the nominations were being read out.[3]

His first feature film, the 2007 romantic comedy Eagle vs Shark, was released in U.S. theatres for limited distribution in 2007. The film stars Waititi's then real-life partner, Loren Horsley, as Lily. The same year, he wrote and directed one episode of the TV show Flight of the Conchords and was director of another.

His second feature, Boy, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010.[7][8] and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.[9] On its release in New Zealand, it received top reviews[10] and was successful at the box office, eclipsing several records.[11] After the success of Boy, Waititi tried to get the film's signature track "Poi E" to become number one (for the second time) on the New Zealand charts. Although his efforts succeeded in getting the track to number one on iTunes and number three on the New Zealand charts, it missed out on the top spot on the New Zealand charts.[12]

In 2011, Waititi directed the New Zealand TV series Super City starring Madeleine Sami, who plays five characters living in one city.[13]

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.[14] The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014.[15]

Waititi's fourth feature, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

In 2015, Waititi entered in negotiations to direct the Marvel Studios film Thor: Ragnarok.[16]


In 1999, Waititi starred in the successful low-budget Dunedin film Scarfies.

In 2011, Waititi played Thomas Kalmaku in the live-action superhero film Green Lantern.[17]

In 2013, Waititi played Viago in What We Do in the Shadows, a vampire mocumentary set in Wellington, New Zealand, which he also co-directed and co-wrote with Jemaine Clement.



Year Film Credited as
Director Producer Screenwriter Actor Notes
1999 Scarfies No No No Yes
2003 Two Cars, One Night Yes No Yes No Short film
2007 Eagle vs Shark Yes No Yes No
2010 Boy Yes No Yes Yes Role: Alamein
2011 Green Lantern No No No Yes Role: Thomas Kalmaku
2014 What We Do in the Shadows Yes Yes Yes Yes Role: Viago
2016 Hunt for the Wilderpeople Yes Yes Yes Yes
2017 Thor: Ragnarok Yes No No No Pre-production


Year Program Episode(s) Credit(s)
2007-09 Flight of the Conchords "Drive By", "New Zealand Town" Director, Writer
2011 Super City Season 1 Director

Personal life[edit]

In May 2012, Waititi's wife, Chelsea Winstanley, gave birth to their first daughter, Te Hinekāhu.[18][19]


  1. ^ Churchouse, Nick (24 April 2010). "Home Boy hit helps keep local cameras rolling". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "Boy Now Top Grossing NZ Film Of All Time". Voxy.co.nz. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  3. ^ a b "Taika Waititi". NZ On Screen.
  4. ^ Tom Hunt (2012-02-07). "Taika Waititi reveals childhood passions". The Dominion Post. 
  5. ^ Elizabeth- cawobeth (2012-03-03). "'Boy' movie review, trailer: A charming New Zealand family movie". newjerseynewsroom.com. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  6. ^ Nate Bloom (10 July 2007). "Interfaith Celebrities: Kyra Sedgwick, Baseball's Braun-y Interfaith Rookie and a Jewish Maori director". InterfaithFamily.com. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  7. ^ "Release Dates for Boy". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  8. ^ RT Staff (2 December 2009). Rotten Tomatoes: Sundance Festival "2010 Sundance Film Festival Lineup Announced" Check |url= value (help). rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  9. ^ "Awards for Boy (2010)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  10. ^ Calder, Peter (25 March 2010). "Boy". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  11. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (21 May 2010). "Waititi's Boy sets new record for New Zealand film". Screen Daily (screendaily.com). Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  12. ^ "Interview with Taika Waititi". Marcus Lush. 22 March 2010. ZM. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  13. ^ "Super City". TV3. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  14. ^ "mock documentary WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS". 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  15. ^ "Sundance debut for Kiwi vampire spoof". 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  16. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/taiki-waititi-direct-third-thor-829089
  17. ^ Borys Kit (15 March 2010). "Two kiwi actors join 'Green Lantern'". Reuters. Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  18. ^ Twitter
  19. ^ Powley, Kathryn (3 June 2012). "Girl, not Boy, for director dad". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 

External links[edit]