A producer's speechless The Lion King musical has an immigration exemption, when local shows need support.
126 border passes have been granted under the "other critical worker" category - for a limited run of the stage production from June.
The production will employ more than 300 local workers, but only put five young Kiwis on stage.
G&T Productions Terry O'Connor says he's gobsmacked.
He told Kerre McIvor the Government should be supporting Kiwi talent and productions.
"We're just asking for a level playing field while our borders remain closed. We just want a hand up or just fair deal."
He says the amount of talent we've already got in the country's immense - and there's more people here waiting for opportunities than normal.
"Due to Covid, most of our young people who went overseas to make careers have had to come back to New Zealand."
Sole Mio's Pene Pati backs those calls. He told Kerre McIvor so many Kiwis are hungry to get on stage.
"They're bringing in a massive production and only five of us go on stage? That's so sad, because I know some of the talent that's sprinkled around New Zealand."
Promoters Live Nation say the Lion King needs international talent for continuity, and because it's a difficult show to learn.