Director Taika Waititi has cast Sam Neill in his long-awaited screen adaptation of a book by Barry Crump.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople, which is based on Crump's Wild Pork and Watercress, will star Neill as the cantankerous foster uncle Hec who goes bush in the Ureweras with his city kid nephew Ricky after Social Welfare threatens to put the boy into a home.

Filming starts on Monday for the movie which will shoot in West Auckland and the Central Plateau.

Ricky is played by young Wellington actor Julian Dennison, who was first seen in local movie Shopping, and has a supporting role in the Australian film Paper Planes.

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Waititi, who has written the screenplay and who be one of the producers on the film, has had the book adaptation in the works since before his second feature Boy became a local runaway hit in 2010.

- nzherald.co.nz