Taika Waititi recognised with Queen's Birthday 2020 Honour

Filmmaker Taika Waititi has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen's Birthday 2020 honours list.

The New Zealand Order of Merit honours Kiwis who have made significant contributions to the nation.

Waititi was appointed an ONZM for his services to film, praising his "international success and a film director".

The acclaimed director, writer, and actor, who is based in the US, told Newshub he'd be keeping his celebrations low key. 

"I'm going to stay home and hang out with the kids and catch up with work. I think it will be nice to celebrate just knowing that it exists," he said. 

"It'd be nice to be able to do it with people and I'm a bit over celebrating things on Zoom… it's not really the same."

Waititi was recognised for his recent win of the 2020 Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for his 'anti-hate satire' film JoJo Rabbit. The movie received six Academy Award nominations overall.

Among his many cinematic achievements listed, the Raukokore-born filmmaker was recognised for his 2010 film Boy, which became the highest-grossing New Zealand film - a record that Waititi went on to surpass with 2016's Hunt for the Wilderpeople, breaking the country's opening weekend record for a Kiwi film.

Waititi said that Boy remained the "strongest and most 'Taika'" film in his portfolio. 

"It's the most personal one and the one that really changed a lot of stuff for me. It's the closest film to me because it's from my hometown."

In his acceptance speech at the 2020 Academy Awards, Waititi dedicated his win to "all the indigenous kids in the world who want to write, make art, dance".

Waititi said that he didn't feel he was taken seriously when he first arrived in Hollywood. 

"In the early days when I was coming here they would always make jokes that foreigners like to make… make assumptions about us and all the sheep.

"You kind of fly under the radar a bit, they don't see you coming. We're a bit more unassuming," he said. 

Also on this year's Queen's Birthday Honour list is television writer and show-runner James Griffin, famous for creating Outrageous Fortune and Westside, among other Kiwi films and TV shows.

Meanwhile, Waititi's advice for aspiring filmmakers is simple: "Stick with it." 

"It sounds like what you would usually hear… it's a tough game and it takes a long time."