The Thor: Ragnarok director took to Twitter Thursday evening to ‘apologise’ for comments he made in an interview with Marae regarding New Zealand’s waterways, suicide rates and child poverty, among other things.

Waititi later followed that up with several more tweets, including one poking fun at the fact that while he also criticised New Zealand’s high rates of teen suicide, depression, child poverty and abuse, it was his description of our waterways as “poisoned” that seemed to have drawn the most ire from Garner.

In the Marae interview, Waititi had said that he was “not very proud of coming from a place that everyone overseas thinks is this beautiful clean, green country, whereas in reality all our lakes and waterways are poisoned”.

“We’ve got a lot to learn about looking after the environment and we’ve got a lot to learn about our depression rates and our suicide rates and our teen suicide rates, child poverty numbers and the housing crisis.” In response, Garner labelled Waititi’s comments “treasonous”.

“He was New Zealander of the year, this year 2017, so he’s an ambassador for New Zealand now,” said Garner on The AM Show Thursday morning. “You cannot be this treasonous about your own country. You cannot say you’re not proud to be a New Zealander if you’re the New Zealander of the year.”

“I’ve got a problem with it, because you have to be accurate as New Zealander of the Year, and I reckon he’s thrown New Zealand under the bus,” the former political editor concluded.

Confronted, Garner stuck by his statement. Media personality Colin Mathura-Jeffree contacted The AM Show to say he supported Waititi for speaking out when so few celebrities would. “Taika should speak truly, he loves New Zealand, and he should speak out freely,” he wrote.

The New Zealander of the Year is an award, put on by corporate sponsors, for which the public votes to “celebrate those people who use their passion for New Zealand to make our country a better place”.

Waititi has been a vocal advocate for indigenous peoples here and in Australia, where he made a point of hiring local indigenous crew for Thor: Ragnarok.

Back home, he was a spokesman for the Human Rights Commission’s 2017 ‘Racism needs your help’ anti-racism campaign. He also campaigned for The Greens in the 2017 election.

He’s just a good lad basically.


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