The man who directed Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do in the Shadows, also said people in his home country can be very “patronising”.
Interviewed for Dazed and Confused magazine, he was asked whether New Zealand was “like Australia without the racism and the blokeish sense of humour”.
Waititi replied: “Nah, it’s racist as f***.”
He added: “I mean, I think New Zealand is the best place on the planet, but it’s a racist place.
“People just flat-out refuse to pronounce Maori names properly.
“There’s still profiling when it comes to Polynesians. It’s not even a colour thing – like, ‘Oh, there’s a black person.’
“It’s ‘if you’re Poly then you’re getting profiled'”
He said he experienced discrimination growing up.
“I remember getting a job at a dairy and they would never give me a job at the till,” he said.
“I was always at the back washing vegetables. And then one day one of the owners asked me if I sniffed glue – like, ‘Are you a glue-sniffer?’
“In my head I was like, ‘Motherf*****, you grew up with my mum!’
“And I knew for sure that he didn’t ask other kids in the store if they were glue-sniffers.”
The actor and director, who now lives in Los Angeles with his family, says returning to New Zealand can be a difficult experience.
“People in Auckland are very patronising,” he said.
“They’re like, ‘Oh, you’ve done so well, haven’t you? For how you grew up. For one of your people.”
It is not the first time that Waititi has spoken about racism in New Zealand.
Last year, he appeared in a tongue-in-cheek video on which he said that “racism needs your help to survive”.
“You may not be in a position to give much to racism,” he said. “But whatever you feel comfortable giving will make a huge difference.”
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“You don’t have to be a full-on racist – just being a tiny racist is enough.
“A smile, a cheeky giggle, even a simple nod and agreement, it all adds up, and it gives others the message it’s OK.”