News, Culture & Society

Transgender model Manahou Mackay New Zealand Fashion Week

She’s only 18 years old, but already Te Manahou Mackay is a force to be reckoned with in the modelling industry.

Having opened and closed shows for the likes of Zambesi and New Generation designers at New Zealand Fashion Week this week, the Auckland-born model is also the first transgender model to walk at the prestigious event.

Here, in a watershed moment for the fashion industry, FEMAIL takes a look at the life of the first openly trans person in New Zealand to be signed by a modelling agency.

Te Manahou Mackay (pictured) is the first transgender model to walk at New Zealand Fashion Week - she has opened and closed shows so far including Zambesi and New Generation designers (pictured)

Te Manahou Mackay (pictured) is the first transgender model to walk at New Zealand Fashion Week – she has opened and closed shows so far including Zambesi and New Generation designers (pictured)

In a watershed moment for the fashion industry, FEMAIL takes a look at the life of the first openly trans person in New Zealand to be signed by a modelling agency (pictured: Te Manahou Mackay)

In a watershed moment for the fashion industry, FEMAIL takes a look at the life of the first openly trans person in New Zealand to be signed by a modelling agency (pictured: Te Manahou Mackay)

Ms Mackay quit school after Year 12, and she was later scouted by The Others modelling agency while at a friend's house last November - she has since moved to 62 Models modelling agency (pictured modelling for Zambesi)

Ms Mackay quit school after Year 12, and she was later scouted by The Others modelling agency while at a friend's house last November - she has since moved to 62 Models modelling agency (pictured modelling for Zambesi)

Ms Mackay quit school after Year 12, and she was later scouted by The Others modelling agency while at a friend’s house last November – she has since moved to 62 Models modelling agency (pictured modelling for Zambesi)

Since then, it's been a whirlwind of castings, bookings, interviews and TV appearances on The Project New Zealand for the young model (pictured)

Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of castings, bookings, interviews and TV appearances on The Project New Zealand for the young model (pictured)

Like many models, Ms Mackay’s story of being scouted is the stuff of fairy tales.

Having quit school because she didn’t enjoy it after Year 12, she was scouted by The Others modelling agency last November while at a friend’s house.

She later moved to 62 Models – upon which point she was signed on for her debut fashion week in Auckland this week.

Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of castings, bookings, interviews and TV appearances on The Project New Zealand for the young model.

All the while she has maintained a job at an Italian restaurant close to her home – the owner of which didn’t realise she was transgender until she appeared on TV.

She explained that while she is happy to be a 'role model model', she doesn't necessarily see herself as a 'spokesperson for transgender youth'

She explained that while she is happy to be a 'role model model', she doesn't necessarily see herself as a 'spokesperson for transgender youth'

She explained that while she is happy to be a ‘role model model’, she doesn’t necessarily see herself as a ‘spokesperson for transgender youth’

Speaking about her newfound fame on the New Zealand edition of The Project earlier this month, Ms Mackay said, laughingly, that while she would love to be a ‘role model model’ she also isn’t necessarily entirely comfortable with being a voice for transgender people in general: 

‘It’s been a lot for me mentally to be outed in a way, but I think it’s character building…,’ she said. 

‘Of course I want to be a role model to all these people, but I don’t think that I have too many profound things to say. I don’t think I’m cut out to be a spokesperson for transgender youth.’

'Of course I want to be a role model to all these people, but I don't think that I have too many profound things to say,' Ms Mackay told The Project New Zealand

‘Of course I want to be a role model to all these people, but I don’t think that I have too many profound things to say,’ Ms Mackay told The Project New Zealand

Nevertheless, the 18-year-old – whose Manahou name means ‘new power’ or ‘new energy’ – said that modelling is her dream and has opened her up to all sorts of opportunities:

‘It’s a dream come true really… I’ve been this little girl since I was a little kid,’ she told the show. 

‘In all of my childhood photos I’m wearing a cute little white dress and holding a bouquet – so being transgender was just the natural progression for me.

‘My mum introduced me to this woman, who introduced me to this clinic, Youth Health Hub, which is based out west. I just started treatment when I was about eleven and I hopped on hormones when I was about 13 – and the rest is history.’

So far this New Zealand Fashion Week, Te Manahou Mackay has walked for Zambesi and Pania. She is also set to model for Kate Sylvester, Stolen Girlfriends Club and Huffer before the week is out

So far this New Zealand Fashion Week, Te Manahou Mackay has walked for Zambesi and Pania. She is also set to model for Kate Sylvester, Stolen Girlfriends Club and Huffer before the week is out

So far this New Zealand Fashion Week, Te Manahou Mackay has walked for Zambesi and Pania. She is also set to model for Kate Sylvester, Stolen Girlfriends Club and Huffer before the week is out

So far this New Zealand Fashion Week, Te Manahou Mackay has walked for Zambesi and Pania. She is also set to model for Kate Sylvester, Stolen Girlfriends Club and Huffer before the week is out.

‘I’ve met heaps of really cool people, and I think that’s what makes it worthwhile,’ she said of her experience so far.

‘I don’t have any plans, I’m just following the journey and seeing what happens.’

Te Manahou Mackay is walking for New Zealand Fashion Week. For more information, click here. You can also follow her on Instagram here

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk