Taika Waititi jokes customs gave him 'a grilling' over 'treason' at Merata Mita film premiere

Taika Waititi has again poked fun at his recent controversies, saying New Zealand customs gave him "a real grilling" when he returned.

The Thor: Ragnarok filmmaker is back in the country after a year and a half away filming movies around the world.

Waititi is in Auckland for the premiere of Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen, a documentary about his filmmaking mentor Merata Mita.

The film had its world premiere at the 2018 New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) on Thursday night and Waititi attended with his wife, Chelsea Winstanley. She produced the documentary, along with Cliff Curtis, who also attended the premiere.

Waititi told Newshub that Mita was like a mother to him, helping shape him into the storyteller he's become.

"My initial drafts of Boy were very serious. I was trying to tell a story and make the type of film that I thought people wanted to see," he said.

"In terms of like, the trends of New Zealand filmmaking. [Mita] said, 'That's not you, mate. You're an idiot - just make a film that's really true to how you tell stories'. And that's why Boy turned out the way it is."

Waititi also responded with his usual deadpan style when asked if it was troublesome being let back into the country after comments he'd made in interviews.

In 2017, he was labelled "treasonous" for highlighting some of Aotearoa's environmental and social issues, and this year faced another fierce backlash after saying the nation has a racism problem.

"Coming through customs was alright, I got a real grilling through there. Obviously, because of all the terrible things I've said about the country," said Waititi.

"I've learnt my lesson. I've really learnt to keep my mouth shut."

Waititi has recently been shooting his next film Jojo Rabbit in Europe.

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen is playing in other centres as the NZIFF moves around the country.