Taika Waititi

LOS ANGELES - JUN 15: Taika Waititi at the premiere of Warner Br

Waititi in 2011, photo by Joe Seer/bigstockphoto.com

Birth Name: Taika David Waititi

Place of Birth: Wellington, New Zealand

Date of Birth: 16 August, 1975

*father – Māori, as well as distant British Isles, possibly 1/16th French-Canadian
*mother – Irish, English, Scottish, Northern Irish, one quarter Ashkenazi Jewish

Taika Waititi, also known as Taika Cohen, is a New Zealand film director, screenwriter, actor, and comedian.

Taika is the son of Robin (Cohen), a teacher, from Wellington, and Taika Waititi, a farmer and artist, from Waihau Bay. Taika’s father is Māori, and also of distant British Isles, and possibly 1/16th French-Canadian, ancestry. Taika’s mother has Irish, English, Scottish, Northern Irish, and one quarter Ashkenazi Jewish, ancestry.

Taika is married to producer Chelsea Winstanley, with whom he has two children. Chelsea is of part Ngāti Ranginui and Ngai Te Rangi ancestry. Taika is a third cousin, once removed, of politician and activist Rawiri Waititi.

He has said:

My mother and her family’s story, still today, is fascinating to me, because they escaped the pogroms in Russia and then they ended up in England and eventually, somehow, through some mad turn of events, ended up in New Zealand, of all places. Even that story was a story of resilience and determination, so I basically come from two cultures [also referring to Māori] who share those traits.

He has also said (at 42:35):

My mum is white as they come. Her family is originally from Russia, Russian Jews, and mixed with a bit of Irish. And a bit of, sort of, whitey kind of things going on. And then, uhm, my dad’s side is Māori and a little bit of French Canadian.

Taika’s paternal grandfather was Eruiti Taika/Edward Waititi (the son of Kainga O Te Ware Waititi and Taupe Waititi). Kainga was the son of Hone Te Ware Waititi and Te Huingamate Pururangi. Taupe was the daughter of Paraone Heremia and Te Owai Wirepa. Te Owai Wirepa’s great-grandfather, Edward William Raper aka Wi Repa, was a white whaler.

Taika’s paternal grandmother was Matewa Delamere (the daughter of Hiki Manawa Delamere and Rongopouri Poihipi). Hiki was the son of Kohi/Neri/Ned/Edward Delamere and Ngarori Nikorima. Kohi’s father, Samuel/Sam Delamere, was a whaler who married Peti/Irihapeti Te Ha, a Māori woman. Samuel was white, and is often said to have been French-Canadian.

Taika’s maternal grandfather was David Cohen (the son of Henry/Harry Isaac Cohen and Norah/Nora Baker). Taika’s great-grandfather Henry came to Wellington on the Ruahine in 1913 from London, England. He was the son of Lewis Cohen, who worked as a tailor in Wellington, and of Rachel Annie. They were Jewish, from Novozybkov, Russia. Lewis’s family at one point lived in Edinburgh, Scotland. Taika’s great-grandmother Norah/Nora Baker was born in Christchurch, Christchurch City, Canterbury, New Zealand, and was the daughter Henry Baker and Honora Norah Butler, who were farmers. Henry was Irish, from Portlaw, Waterford. Taika’s great-great-grandmother Honora was born on Lyttleton, South Island, and was the daughter of David Butler and Mary Cull, who were Irish, with roots in County Limerick.

Taika’s maternal grandmother was Bertha Mary Bond (who likely was the daughter of Percy Randolph Bond and Winifred/Winnie Catherine Ruth Seal). Percy was the son of John Bond and Lavina Frelan/Freelan/Freland/Freeland, who had roots in Rathkeale, Limerick, Ireland. Winifred was the daughter of Thomas William Seal, who was born in Hampshire, England, and of Mary Stokes Wildey, who was born in Dunedin, Dunedin City, Otago, New Zealand. Taika’s great-great-grandmother Mary was the daughter of Benjamin Milton Wildey, who was born in the U.K., and of Catherine Wasen/Wason Munro, who had Scottish ancestry.

Sources: Mentions of Taika’s family background – http://www.npr.org

Genealogy of Taika Waititi – https://www.geni.com

Article about Taika’s paternal great-great-grandmother, Te Owai Wirepa’s, brother, Tutere Wi Repa – https://teara.govt.nz

Information about Taika’s paternal great-great-great-grandfather, Samuel/Sam Delamere – http://www.teara.govt.nz

21 Responses

  1. alexgxo says:

    I remembered articles use to claim that he was half Jewish, but now they’re saying he’s 1/4th (here’s an article from “Indiewire”): https://www.indiewire.com/2020/02/taika-waititi-jojo-rabbit-backlash-oscars-jewish-1202210861/

    But even that isn’t true, He’s 1/8th Jewish, and his mother doesn’t seem to be Jewish, religion wise.

  2. xexe99 says:

    Taika is only 1/8th Jewish? He always says he had a Maori dad and Jewish mom, and he has a Star of David tattoo. He seems to strongly identify with it. I am surprised his connection is only one great grandparent.

    • comrade says:

      I thought he was half Jewish as well, it was a bit of a let down finding out only his great grandfather was Jewish.

      I think he’s more inclined to the Jewish side. His birth name is Taika Cohen and Cohen is the most popular Jewish name you can have even if you’re only 1/8th Jewish. He probably has a lot of people asking if he’s jewish just because of the name, so he probably replies with “Yep, I’m Jewish.”

      But he also stated in one interview that his mother was part Irish which was confirmed my research.

      • comrade says:

        *confirmed with

      • Versa says:

        Taika says here that he’s half Jewish and that his mother’s side is Russian Jews. That’s not true?


      • Versa says:

        I think lying or overstating Jewish heritage is common in Hollywood. Charlie Sheen falsely claimed to be half Jewish. Armie Hammer also claimed to be half Jewish, but like Taika, is only 1/8th. Whoopie Goldberg use to tell people her mother was Jewish which is untrue. Seems pretending to be Jewish is the new pretending to be Native American.

        Pretty shallow for celebrities to treat ethnic heritage like fashion accessories to pick and choose from depending on whatever’s hot in the industry at the moment.

        • Oaken05 says:

          You seem to REALLY be caught up on this and personally. That’s something YOU have to deal with and work out. Get off it, here, though.

          • Versa says:

            I have to “work out” celebrities deliberately lying and treating ethnicity like a fashion accessory they can pick and choose from? Yeah, no.

            It’s a site about ethnicity. I’m discussing a peculiar phenomenon in Hollywood to feign or overstate Jewish heritage. I’m Jewish, and I don’t appreciate people lying about being Jewish when they think it will benefit them. It reinforces negative stereotypes about Jews controlling Hollywood. It’s wrong. Deal with it.

      • comrade says:

        This is the interview I was talking about: https://play.acast.com/s/thelastskeptik/45047ab4-ee05-48ea-b78a-aaf12a03ad47

        It’s a really good quote: Starts at 42:35
        “My mum is white as they come. Her family is originally from Russia, Russian Jews, and mixed with a bit of Irish. And a bit of, sort of, whitey kind of things going on. And then, uhm, my dad’s side is Māori and a little bit of French Canadian.”

    • alexgxo says:

      Not surprising at all.

      Plus, when you’re in the public eye, its not uncommon to embellish your origins, and identifying as one or two backgrounds can also save a lot of time. EX – There are many Americans who say they’re just “Anglo” or “Irish” or “German when asked about their background, but in actuality, usually they’re a mixture of a bunch of different ethnic groups.

  3. comrade says:


    Whoever did this family tree made some f* ups. They have the wrong Henry Isaac Cohen. Taika’s Henry Isaac Cohen (born 1894) is the son of Louis Cohen and Rachel Annie Cohen from England/Scotland. The one’s that came to New Zealand on the boat Ruahine.

    The other Henry Isaac Cohen (born 1891) was the son of Albert Cohen and Minnie Levy (not Annie), they came from Australia. They were also tailors. So I get the confusion but Albert and Minnie’s son Henry moved to America and married an actress, Doris Duane (aka Doris Lumsden, later he married Edna Davies, also an actress).

    In this geni.com tree he married Norah Baker. But it was Henry Isaac Cohen (born 1894, son of Lewis) that married Norah Baker in 1918. So Henry (born 1891) couldn’t have married Norah because he was also married to Doris Duane that same year, 1918.

    (I should’ve mentioned that only the Baker and Butler line of the tree is verified correct with birth/marriage/death records.)

    Bertha Mary Bond’s parents could be Percy Randolph Bond and Winifred Catherine Ruth Seal but they could also be Alfred John Bond and Agnes Ellis, or George Bond and Winifred Ivy Peach, or even Alfred Herbert Bond and Hellen Mary Sheehan.

    So the maternal grandmothers side is unverified and Annie Rachel’s side is incorrect.

  4. comrade says:

    New description below with new information by yours truly -comrade

    *Mother’s side: 1/8 Irish (through Norah Baker, maternal great-grandmother), 1/8 Ashkenazi Jewish (through maternal great-grandfather Harry Cohen), 1/4 British Isles/European (through maternal grandmother Bertha Mary Bond)
    *Father’s side: 3/7 Polynesian Māori (through Waititi, Poihipi and Apanui line), 1/16 French-Canadian (through paternal 3x great grandfather Sam Delamere, a white whaler), 1/125 Western European (through paternal great-great-grandmother, Te Owai Wirepa’s great-grandfather Edward William Raper aka Wi Repa, also a white whaler.)

    Taika Waititi is the son of Robin Cohen, a teacher from Wellington and Taika Waititi Sr., a farmer/artist from Waihau Bay.

    His maternal grandparents are David Cohen and Bertha Mary Bond. David Cohen was half Jewish and half Irish immigrant.
    His parents were Henry (Harry) Isaac Cohen and Norah Baker. Henry Isaac Cohen’s father was Lewis Cohen. Lewis Cohen worked as a tailor in Wellington.
    Harry’s mother was Annie Rachel Cohen. Lewis and Annie came to Wellington, New Zealand with three of their five children on the Ruahine in 1913 from London, England. Harry came over 3 years later in 1916 on the Arawa steamer.
    Lewis Cohen and his family came to London from Edinburgh, Scotland (as stated in Harry Cohen’s sister’s obituary dated 1945). Supposedly they originated from Eastern Europe/Russia, as stated by Taika himself, but there’s no evidence supporting that, yet.

    Taika Waititi’s grandmother Bertha Mary Bond is probably of European and British Isles descent as there are no recorded Jewish Bond’s living in New Zealand paired with the fact that Bertha Mary Bond was cremated and interred at a non religious cemetery points to the fact that she wasn’t of Jewish descent.
    That makes Taika Waititi only 1/8 Jewish through his maternal great grandfather Henry (Harry) Isaac Cohen.

    David Cohen’s mother Norah Baker was the daughter Henry Baker and Norah Butler, both were Irish immigrant farmers from counties Waterford and Limerick. Henry Baker was the son of Walter Baker and Mary Ellen McGrath, farmers from Portlaw, Waterford, Ireland.

    Genealogy of Taika’s maternal great-great-grandfather, Henry Baker: https://www.geni.com/people/Henry-Baker/6000000091728465014?through=6000000091727241428
    Article about Taika’s paternal great-great-grandmother (Te Owai Wirepa)’s brother, Tutere Wi Repa: https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/3w12/wi-repa-tutere

    (there are more sources but the links are too long to fit.)

    (Also, Hi. I’m new. I’m fascinated by this website. i could do more research for you guys.)

  5. madman says:

    Taika is the son of Robin (Cohen), a teacher, and Taiga Waititi, a farmer and artist. He says so in this clip:

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