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Waititi named New Zealander of the Year

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/02/2017
Taika Waititi © Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/AP Images Taika Waititi

"Downright funny" filmmaker, actor and artist Taika Waititi has been named New Zealander of the year.

The 41-year-old came out top from 375 nominations for the eight-year-old awards, which were revealed at parliament on Wednesday night.

Los Angeles work commitments meant Waititi wasn't able to attend the event, and his award was collected on his behalf by his wife Chelsea Winstanley.

Judges said Waititi was an "exciting and inspiring example of who and what we are as Kiwis".

"Creative, courageous, audacious, subversive and downright funny, he's at the forefront of New Zealand filmmaking and the arts," said chief judge Cameron Bennett.

The director of Hunt for the Wilderpeople was also cited for his work for charities fighting poverty and raising awareness of the lack of Maori and Pacific Island bone marrow donors.

Young New Zealander of the Year went to Auckland's Rez Gardi for services to human rights, Senior New Zealander of the Year to Wellington's Sue Paterson for services to the arts, Community of the Year to Manurewa's Randwick Park, Innovator of the Year to Auckland's Dr Ed Gane for services to health and Local Hero of the Year to Auckland's Hayden Smith for services to conservation.

Previous winners of the New Zealander of the Year Award include Richie McCaw, Sir Stephen Tindall, Dr Lance O'Sullivan and Sir Ray Avery.

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