By Jerram Watts
“Stop being a pussy and do it.”
That is film director Taika Waititi’s message to Kiwis who are still ‘um-ing and ah-ing’ about whether to participate in Earth Hour or not.
“It’s important, it’s not even a big deal, you may as well do it, it’s not a huge obligation,” he says.
Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007 in a bid to inspire people to take action on climate change by turning off their lights for one hour to show how small individual actions can add up to make a difference.
Earth Hour is only a few days away and World Wildlife Fund Earth Hour ambassador Taika Waititi is adamant Kiwis take part in the campaign.
“It’s not a huge effort,” he says. “The problem is people look for the problem. They only want to find what’s wrong – there’s nothing wrong it; if it was law [to do Earth Hour] then it would be normal.
“What else are you going to do that night? Watch TV?”
The Kiwi director and actor was approached by WWF to be an ambassador for the cause. Waititi jokes that he only said yes because he thought they were from the World Wrestling Federation.
“I thought, ‘This is awesome’, but was slightly disappointed when I heard it was me riding pandas.”
That was another joke. Waititi has a quick wit and a voice that oozes enthusiasm – perhaps traits that make him an ideal ambassador. He cares about the cause, but doesn’t take it too seriously.
“For me, solidarity is what it’s all about,” he says. “You can’t change the world by turning power off for one hour, but it’s about each person trying to show that a small action can make a huge difference.
“Lots of people don’t realise it’s about saying, ‘There is a point.'”
Currently on the set of the film Green Lantern, which stars Ryan Reynolds, in New Orleans, Waititi says he is doing what he can to live a green lifestyle while on set.
“I’ve got a bicycle, I bought an old '70s bicycle off Craigslist when I got here,” he says.
“New Orleans is pretty flat. I could have got a car for two months, but I got a bicycle and I feel better about it.”
On the snacks table on set, Waititi says there is a sign explaining all scraps will be recycled and turned into compost – only the third motion picture production in history to do such a thing.
“There is so much waste here, so much excess. It feels like no one gives a shit,” he says.
The director of new film Boy and true Kiwi-style comedy Eagle vs Shark says while he doesn’t make a noise about Earth Hour on set, he does talk about it with the people he hangs out with.
This year, 47 New Zealand cities, towns and municipalities will turn off their lights for Earth Hour – Waititi’s Wellington will join over 100 countries committed to the campaign.
Along with Waititi is Kiwi producer Lizzie Gillett and host of other ambassadors from around the world, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.
Some people might kick up a stink about switching off for an hour, but they need to get over it says Waititi.
“Some people say, ‘The bloody hippies are trying to stop me using electricity,' they think somebody is trying to take away their right to watch TV.
“Don’t worry too much. You’re still allowed to sneak away and watch Desperate Housewives.”
Earth Hour is from 8.30pm until 9.30pm this Saturday, March 27.
“It’s a fun way to make a difference,” Waititi says.