A Rotorua rugby player will be making her debut in acting beside some of this country's well-known film stars.

Ngawaea Taia (Te Arawa) will star in short film Tits on a Bull, which will be made by local film-makers Tim Worrall, Piripi Curtis and Lara Northcroft in and around Rotorua.

The film features well-known New Zealand actors Roy Billing from Underbelly, the Narnia movies and Agent Anna, and Maria Walker, who has appeared in Mount Zion, Harry and Top of the Lake.

Set in a women's rugby team, the film follows the close friendship between a crusty, old coach Rusty (Billing) and his star player Phoenix (Taia) as their loyalty to one another is threatened by Phoenix's new relationship with the captain of the team, Mel (Walker).


"It's inspired by different situations and different people that I have known," writer and director Tim Worrall (Ngai Tuhoe/Te Arawa) said.

"The old coach is based on a parking attendant I used to see a lot in Wellington, he was a lovely old character."

The rugby scenes will be shot at Waikite Rugby Club in Koutu, where Taia plays in the womens team. She caught the attention of Worrall at the local Thursday night touch competition playing for her whanau team.

"We had a men's social team playing beforehand, and I thought, That girl looks like she can play and the way she was interacting with her teammates showed she wasn't shy," he said.

"I could see this sassy, young wahine (woman) bossing around the men in her team and thought shes either a waha (mouth) or shes something special. Next minute she was running the move perfectly and putting her teammates into space with her timing and acceleration."

Worrall said they had scouted through agencies and castings to find someone for the role. Taia's confidence and authenticity as well as her rugby skills convinced Worrall she would make a great lead actor in the film.

The real challenge was either going with an actress who could look like she could play or a player who we could teach to act. We did a big round of auditions in Auckland with about 30 girls and casting in Auckland and Rotorua.

For Taia, being in the film meant doing something that was outside her comfort zone.


"I thought why not? I like to take every opportunity thrown at me. Its exciting but a bit scary, I still feel like I have a lot to do," she said.

The film has been funded through the NZ Film Commissions Fresh Shorts initiative.

A number of screen professionals both local and Auckland-based are donating their time and services for nothing or at minimal rates to ensure the film is made. More than 30 locals, both screen professionals and interested novices, will be directly involved in the production.

The film-makers are desperately seeking assistance from Rotorua hotels to accommodate about a dozen crew and cast which includes Billing and Walker, who will travelling from out of town for the film shoot during May 23-27. Hotels able to help would receive a credit in the film as well as grateful acknowledgement during the marketing and promotion of the production.

Anyone who can help can contact co-producer Lara Northcroft at (021) 992 682 or lara@velvetstone.co.nz.

The production also needs to film for an afternoon at a share-milker house. If you or someone you know has this style of house, preferably surrounded by a dairy farm please contact director Tim Worrall at (021) 176 4631 or timworrall@paradise.net.nz.