Taika Waititi Ethnicity: A Comprehensive Guide

Taika Waititi Ethnicity: A Comprehensive Guide

An image of Taika Waititi
From his Māori father to his Jewish mother, from his New Zealand upbringing to his global fame, Taika Waititi’s ethnicity is an important part of his story. Find out how he draws from his diverse background and heritage to create stories that are both entertaining and meaningful in this article/PHOTO COURTESY: Facbook

Taika Waititi is a New Zealand filmmaker, actor, and comedian who has gained international acclaim for his work in movies such as:

He is also known for his distinctive style of humour, his creative vision, and his personal background.

But what is Taika Waititi’s ethnicity? And how does it influence his art and identity?

In this article, we will explore the various aspects of Taika Waititi’s ethnicity, from his family history to his cultural affiliations.

What are Taika Waititi’s ethnicities?

Taika Waititi was born on 16 August 1975 in Wellington, New Zealand.

His full name is Taika David Cohen, but he changed his surname to Waititi when he was in his 20s.

He did this to honour his father, who was also named Taika Waititi.

His father was an artist and a farmer of Māori descent, belonging to the Te Whānau-ā-Apanui tribe.

His mother, Robin Cohen, was a schoolteacher of Jewish ancestry.

Her paternal grandfather was a Russian Jew whose family came from Novozybkov, Russia.

Waititi stated that his mother’s family were Russian Jewish, Irish, and other European ethnicities, while his father’s side was “Māori and a little bit of French Canadian”.

Was Taika Waititi born in New Zealand?

Waititi grew up in a multicultural environment, spending time in both Wellington and Raukokore, a small town on the East Coast of the North Island.

He was exposed to both Māori and Jewish traditions, as well as other influences from popular culture and art.

Taika described himself as a “Polynesian Jew”, although he did not actively practice Judaism.

He also identified as an atheist who “puts more stock in Indigenous beliefs”.

Waititi’s ethnicity has played a significant role in his artistic career, as he often draws inspiration from his own experiences and heritage.

He has explored themes such as identity, belonging, racism, colonialism, and trauma in his films, using humour and satire as tools to challenge stereotypes and prejudices.

He has also incorporated elements of Māori culture and language in his work, such as the use of haka (a ceremonial dance), moko (facial tattoos), and te reo (the Māori language).

Is Taika Waititi fluent in Māori?

He has also collaborated with other Māori artists and actors, such as:

  • Jemaine Clement
  • Taika Mackenzie Davis
  • Rachel House
  • Julian Dennison
  • Temuera Morrison

Waititi is not only proud of his ethnicity but also supportive of other ethnic minorities and marginalized groups.

He has advocated for more diversity and representation in the film industry, especially for Indigenous filmmakers and actors.

Taika has also spoken out against racism and discrimination on various occasions, such as :

  • when he called New Zealand “racist as f***” in an interview
  • when he wore a “Give Nothing To Racism” badge at the Oscars.

He has also used his platform to raise awareness and funds for various causes, such as:

  • the Australian bushfire relief
  • the Black Lives Matter movement,
  • the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Waititi is currently one of the most successful and influential filmmakers in the world, with several projects in the works.

He is set to direct:

  1. Thor: Love and Thunder
  2. the fourth instalment of the Marvel superhero franchise
  3. Next Goal Wins, a comedy-drama based on a documentary about the American Samoa national football team
  4. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, a spin-off film set in the Star Wars universe

He is also involved in several television shows, such as:

  • Reservation Dogs, a comedy series about Native American teenagers
  • Our Flag Means Death, a pirate comedy series starring Rhys Darby
  • What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary series based on his film of the same name
  • The Mandalorian, a Star Wars series where he voices a droid character named IG-1112131415


Taika Waititi is a multi-talented artist who has made a name for himself with his unique style of filmmaking and comedy.

His ethnicity is an important part of his identity and artistry.

He draws from his diverse background and heritage to create stories that are both entertaining and meaningful.

He is also a vocal advocate for social justice and cultural diversity, using his fame and influence to support various causes and communities.

Taika Waititi is not only a Polynesian Jew but also a global citizen who inspires millions of people with his work and vision.

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