Sunday night's (Feb. 9) Oscars was notable for a number of firsts: Parasite became the first non-English-language feature to win best picture, Brad Pitt snagged his first Oscar for acting and a woman (Eimear Noone) conducted the Oscars orchestra for the first time. But one of the most prominent groundbreakers was New Zealand-born director Taika Waititi, who became the first person of M?ori descent to win an Oscar.
Waititi took home the prize for adapted screenplay for his WWII comedy Jojo Rabbit, in which he also starred as 10-year-old Jojo "Rabbit" Betzler's imaginary friend Adolf Hitler. Waititi was the first indigenous person to ever be nominated for an Oscar, and during his acceptance speech, opened with a M?ori greeting and thanks ("kai ora"), bringing some of the flavor of his nation's indigenous Polynesian tradition to the world stage.
"I dedicate this to all the Indigenous kids in the world who want to do art and dance and write stories,” he said after thanking his mother for introducing him to Caging Skies, the book that inspired the film. “We are the original storytellers and we can make it here, as well.”