Taika Waititi shares childhood experiences with racism in poignant educational campaign

Taika Waititi is calling for teachers to stamp out racism in schools, laying bare his own experiences with racial profiling as a child.

The Māori film director has partnered with the New Zealand Teaching Council's latest campaign which aims to "unteach racism" by unravelling the prejudiced stereotypes often inflicted on young children.

In a poignant video Waititi shares the "harsh lessons" he had to learn as an eight-year-old in the New Zealand school system.

The Oscar-winning director says he was accused of stealing, sniffing glue and was told his darker complexion was because he didn't bathe enough.

Speaking to a photograph of his younger self, Waitit reveals some of his teachers told him he would never amount to much. 

"I know your English teacher said he wasn't expecting much of your English because you're not English but I like your stories," says Waititi.

"You've been made to believe that you're not trustworthy, you're trouble, that you won't add up to much but you'll prove them wrong."

He then thanks two teachers who made a difference by un-teaching the racism he was subjected to - and called for other teachers to make a difference in their student's lives.

"As teachers, you've got the real-life ability to make a difference for kids in the face of racism … you have the power to unteach racism. Will you?"

It's not the first anti-racism campaign that Waititi has campaigned for, after working alongside the Human Rights Commission's "Give Nothing to Racism" project.