Diversity was celebrated at this year's model casting for New Zealand Fashion Week.

And among the around 400 lining up at Auckland's Aotea Centre yesterday for a shot at runway glory was transgender model Manahou Mackay.

The 18-year-old from Mt Albert was discovered by an agent last December who had visited the home of her male model friend. She has already been part of a fashion campaign.

Mackay had recently joined 62 Models & Talent, and Andrea Plowright from the agency expected Fashion Week to be the teen's "moment to break into the industry big time".

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Mackay wanted to use modelling as a way to travel and wanted to help pubic perception of transgender people.

Rather than stereotyped views as either overly-sexualised or "drag queen", she wanted others to see transgender people as no different to other people .

"Just because you're trans, doesn't mean you're one type of way - you can be whatever you want."

Mackay said family and friends had been supportive.

She was delighted to have met New York-based Australian transgender supermodel Andreja Pejic, who walked for Smith & Caughey's in Auckland earlier this year.

"She was... a really lovely person," Mackay said. "Really showed you... the opportunities out there... the possibilities of life... [A] true icon."

An array of ethnicities and body types figured in the queues of models at Aotea Centre, ranging in age from 16 to late-60s.

Also among the line-ups was Sophie Nathan from Greenlane.

Nathan, 20, with Red 11, had been modelling for four years and had been on assignments on both sides of the Tasman.

She also had an acting background, appearing on homegrown TV shows Go Girls and Nothing Trivial.

At 183cm, Nathan said she had "got tall and got into runway and really loved it".

Nathan was also studying international business and marketing at Auckland University.

Transgender Model Manahou MacKay. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Transgender Model Manahou MacKay. Photo / Norrie Montgomery

She wanted to travel further with her modelling career once she completed her degree.

About half the casting models were expected to be chosen for NZ Fashion Week, which runs from August 28-31 for trade before NZ Fashion Weekend, from September 1-3, for the public.

Talent for the casting came from Clyne Models, 62 Models & Talent, Bintang Models, Unique Models, Vanity Walk, New Face Models, Monarch, Kirsty Bunny, RPD Models, Red 11, Silverfox and Icarus.

They strutted their stuff before around 90 designers.

NZ Fashion Week, now in its 17th year, has proven an international launching pad for emerging talent. Models who have gone on to international acclaim following their appearances at the event including Ashleigh Goode, Maia Cotton and Georgia Fowler.