Rodger, who wrote the plays Sons and Ranterstantrum, will complete the first draft of a film script when he takes up the three-month residency in September. Called The Siva, the film draws on Rodger's semi-autobiographical first play, Sons.
"My work is about challenging traditional perceptions of what it means to be a Pacific Islander," Rodger says. "As a gay Samoan writer, I want this film to give a voice to a group of Pacific Islanders who have been largely unrepresented in film and theatre."
Based at the University's Centre for Pacific Studies, the residency is a partnership between Creative New Zealand, Fulbright New Zealand and the University of Hawai'i. It includes return airfares, accommodation costs and an artist stipend of NZ$6000 per month.
Rodger, who is of Samoan and Scottish heritage, was born and grew up in Christchurch. He has written four plays, including his latest, My Name is Gary Cooper, which has just been workshopped and presented by Auckland Theatre Company. He is also writing a film adaptation of Witi Ihimaera's The Uncle's Story.
In 2004-2005, he studied film writing at the Maurits Binger Film Institute in Amsterdam - an experience that inspired his current film project.
"Exposure to other cultures and ideas can have a strong influence on a writer's work," he says. "The Amsterdam experience certainly had a big impact and I have no doubt that my time in Hawai'i will also enrich my work."
He's also keen to make the most of professional development opportunities in Hawai'i and engage with the local community.
Previous recipients of the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers' Residency are filmmaker Sima Urale (2004) and performance poet Tusiata Avia (2005).