Ricky Baker (Dennison), a defiant young city kid, is sent by child welfare services to live in the country with foster parents, Aunt Bella and cantankerous Uncle Hec (Neill). When Bella suddenly passes away and child services decide to take Ricky back to a care home, Ricky runs away into the bush with Uncle Hec in pursuit. Child services arrive to find the house empty, and come to the conclusion a bereaved and mentally unstable Hec has abducted Ricky. A national manhunt ensues, and the two have to get over their differences to survive.
In the birthday scene, the cast and crew filmed ten takes singing the normal "Happy Birthday" song before finding out they didn't have the rights to use it. So the song "Ricky Baker, It's your Birthday" was created on the spot by the actors.
The film was the first local feature to gross more than NZ$1 million in its opening weekend at the New Zealand box office.
The fourth film directed by Taika Waititi to premiere at Sundance Festival, after Eagle Vs Shark, Boy and What We Do In The Shadows, which all won critical acclaim.
An open casting call was held for a 12 to 15 year-old Maori girl to play the role of Kahu, with Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne selected out of 150 applicants. Ngatai-Melbourne auditioned after her friends thought the character description of Kahu sounded like her.
In Ricky's haiku, he says that he hates Kingi. Kingi was a character in Boy (2010), another film directed by Taika Waititi
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