23 Feb 2017

Taika Waititi takes out top Kiwi honour

7:29 am on 23 February 2017

Film director and actor Taika Waititi has been named New Zealander of the Year.

Taika Waititi on the red carpet at the 2015 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.

Taika Waititi. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Waititi's recent film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, was the largest grossing New Zealand film at the New Zealand box office ever.

Waititi was unable to accept the award in person at the awards ceremony last night, as he is currently directing the Marvel superhero film Thor in Los Angeles.

The awards' chief judge said the award was in recognition of Waititi's international showcasing of New Zealand.

He said Waititi was a special talent and a thoroughly worthy recipient of this year's supreme award.

Julian Dennison & Sam Neill in Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople, starring Julian Dennison, left, and Sam Neill, right, was the country's largest grossing film ever. Photo: Supplied

Waititi is a familiar sight on New Zealand and international screens, after parts on Flight of the Conchords, Green Lantern and Scarfies. He has frequently acted on films he has directed, including Eagle vs Shark, Boy and What We Do in the Shadows.

The other category winners were refugee advocate Rez Gardi, the former Royal New Zealand Ballet and New Zealand Festival manager Sue Paterson and medical scientist Ed Gane.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs