RuPaul plugs NZ transgender empowerment film 'Rurangi'

By Taroi Black

A New Zealand-made film featuring a transgender activist returning to his remote rural hometown has received international praise from Hollywood celebrity RuPaul.

The film Rūrangi premiered last year at the New Zealand film festival and is now screening in cinemas across the country as part of Pride Month. Taroi.

American drag superstar RuPaul shared the trailer to their Twitter which has more than 1.4 million followers.

Rurangi director Max Currie worked with Maori story and tikanga advisors to highlight a film that has all transgender characters performed by trans actors.

Currie only woke up to tonnes of messages on his phone after the Tweet was out, "You could not wish for more extraordinary launch for a little Kiwi film than having Mama Ru telling everyone to go and see it." 

RuPaul touched down in Aotearoa last month to film the latest installment of RuPaul's Drag Race featuring drag queens from New Zealand and Australia.

The filming of Rurangi took place in Auckland, Paeroa, Thames, and Te Aroha, while the small town of Ngatea formed the backdrop for the fictional town of Rurangi.

The story is centered on Elz Carrad who made his screen debut as Caz, who returns back to Rurangi as a transgendered man.    

Āwhina Rose Ashby, who stars in the Maori Television comedy programme The Ringins, also has a leading role in Rurangi.

TV personality Ramon Tewake who was part of the reality mini-series Queens of Panguru also plays an integral role.

Rurangi highlights transgender inclusion and empowering the trans community of Aotearoa. It has also included gender diverse people to work on the crew and feature in the film.   

Currie says, "I think what we're finding is although the story is written by trans and primarily for a trans audience, the story of a son coming home finding a place to belong and connecting with his roots is universal.”

Rurangi was made with support from New Zealand On Air, with an internship program supported by the New Zealand Film Commission, and it was produced by Craig Gainsborough.