In the new series Rūrangi, gender-diverse New Zealanders get an opportunity to tell their own story – with resources – for the first time, says director Max Currie.
Over half of Rūrangi's cast and crew identify as gender-diverse – an umbrella term that encompasses transgender, non-binary and intersex people, Currie tells Kim Hill.
During the ten years he's been away Caz has transitioned, but Rūrangi isn't so much about the change in him, Currie says.
"Caz is coming home as himself… and this story is really about his friends and family getting to see him for the first time."
Rūrangi, at its heart, isn't a complex tale, he says.
"This is a very simple story about how hard it is to come home … we all come from families and we can all understand that."
On one level, the series is "a real crucible for exploring New Zealand's future", Currie says. It was also an exciting opportunity to tap into the talent and potential of New Zealand's gender-diverse community.
"It's really, really important when you tell a story about a community that they have a central role in how it is told. If we're going to tell a story about transgender people they absolutely need to tell the story."
In Rūrangi, some cisgender characters are played by trans actors. This was a way to create more opportunities for trans people to work as actors and also make a statement, Currie says.
"Casting trans actors in cis roles sends a really important, powerful message – that trans women are real women and trans men are real men.
"My hope for the future – for transgender people – is that it just becomes another part of who we are. And that our schooling, our family, very easily adjust so the person is supported and grows up whole, that's what I would like."
Rūrangi has world premiere at Auckland's ASB Waterfront Theatre on Sunday 26 July.
It then screens in select cinemas nationwide, and as part of Whānau Marama: New Zealand International Film Festival online streaming programme from 27 July.