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After being recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours you'd be forgiven for thinking the world is starting to run out of awards for Taika Waititi to win.

Today the popular director, actor and screenwriter becomes an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to film.

The local film-maker has been on a hot streak in recent times. He won his first Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay with his anti-hate satire Jojo Rabbit back in February, was named the New Zealand Herald's Entertainment Hero of the Year last December and, in 2017, won the award for New Zealander of the Year.

Thanks to his low-key Kiwi humour and flashy and distinctive visual style Waititi's films have won over audiences worldwide while still retaining a strong New Zealand flavour and Polynesian perspective.

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He has said he hopes his success inspires others to create, tell and share their stories, and even dedicated his Oscar to the next generation of directors, artists and performers that he hopes will follow in his footsteps.

"I dedicate this to all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art and dance and write stories," he said during his acceptance speech. "We are the original storytellers and we can make it here, as well".

The low-key Kiwi humour and flashy and distinctive visual style of Taika Waititi's films have won over audiences worldwide while still retaining a strong New Zealand flavour. Photo / AP
The low-key Kiwi humour and flashy and distinctive visual style of Taika Waititi's films have won over audiences worldwide while still retaining a strong New Zealand flavour. Photo / AP

From humble indie beginnings he has risen to helm the biggest blockbuster franchises in the world. Along the way he has twice broken the record for highest grossing New Zealand film, first with 2010's Boy before besting himself with his global breakthrough Hunt for the Wilderpeople in 2016.

He is largely credited with re-energising Marvel's superhero blockbuster franchise when his dazzlingly idiosyncratic entry, Thor: Ragnarok, pulled in rave reviews and earned a heroic $1.3 billion (US$850 million) at the worldwide box office in 2017.

It was a no brainer that Marvel would want him to helm Thor's sequel Love and Thunder, but the force of Waititi's talent proved too strong for Lucasfilm to resist and in May it was announced that he'd be directing and co-writing an upcoming Star Wars movie.

While demonstrating a seemingly effortless ability to adapt his personal flair and style into Hollywood's rigid corporate framework, he has also retained a fiercely singular spirit, using his box office clout to continue making personal passion projects, like the black satire of Jojo Rabbit in which he also starred as Adolf Hitler, and his upcoming sports comedy Next Goal Wins, a film about American Samoa's ill-fated bid for glory at the football World Cup, which is due out later this year.

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