Growing up around "good, hard-working guys" in Northland has helped budding actor Byron Repia in his latest television endeavour.
Repia, originally from Te Tii on the outskirts of Kerikeri, has landed a lead role in 'Head High', a new local drama series about the hopes and dreams of high school rugby players in New Zealand which screens on TV3 on June 28 at 8.30pm.
Repia plays Christian Deering, a 17-year-old Southdown High School first XV captain, and the oldest son of solo mum Gabrielle Deering and older brother of troubled Riley Deering.
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"My background and life in Northland really helped in terms of creating the character of Christian," he said.
"He's modelled on lots of the people I know up there, all good, hard-working guys who just want an opportunity in life to make something of themselves.
"I'm doing some work for a mate up here at the moment planting 300 hectares of trees, I love the feeling of being home and outdoors, there's nothing better than Northland."
The show centres around rugby and the hopes and dreams of a struggling working-class family; rugby mum and local cop Renee (Miriama McDowell), her husband Vince (Craig Hall), who coaches her sons' team, and daughter Aria.
Their talented rugby-playing boys Mana and Tai - played by ex-'Shortland Street' actors Jayden Daniels and Lionel Wellington - are ready to compete together in the fiercely contested Auckland 1A rugby competition, until one brother is poached by a rival school.
Repia's own dream of a professional rugby career was cut short some years ago.
A talented rugby player in his own right, Repia was working towards a coveted position in the Northland representative team, with the hopes of making higher teams.
But doctors told him he should no longer play following a series of head knocks.
So he turned to acting as something therapeutic to focus on while recovering and it wasn't long before he secured an agent and moved to Auckland to pursue an acting career.
This is one of Repia's first leading roles on television.
His first role was a guest appearance in the international series 'The Shannara Chronicles' and he's recently had a guest appearance on 'Shortland Street' playing troublemaker Jordan Larson.
'Head High' is shaped by co-head writer and director Tim Worrall and TV writer Kate McDermott, and produced by South Pacific Pictures.
"What I love about this show is that it's so relatable; everyone will be able to watch and recognise the characters as people from their own life," Repia said.
"Sporting culture is such a massive part of Aotearoa. But you don't have to love rugby to love this show, at its heart its just a beautiful family drama about whānau and looking out for each other and making the best of opportunities that come your way."