UK-based sales outfit The Works has stepped up its international production activities by boarding New Zealand director Vincent Ward's River Queen, a large-scale historical piece about the Maori's war against the British in the 19th century.

Confirmed cast for the production include Sam Neill and Cliff Curtis. Don Reynolds is producing from script by Toa Fraser. The production is expected to shoot in New Zealand, testifying to the county's growing attraction as a location, partly due to its favourable exchange rate. The New Zealand Film Commission and the New Zealand Film Fund are jointly investing $2m. Shooting is expected to begin around the end of this year

The Works's latest international foray comes as it announced the appointment of Rosa Bosch as acquisitions executive to focus on bringing in overseas co-production, financing and distribution. Bosch is expected to remain a partner in Tequila Gang, the production company she runs with filmmakers including Guillermo del Toro.

"I cannot think of anyone who will bring more experience to our team in terms of international production and distribution," said Aline Perry, The Works chief executive.

River Queen comes to The Works through Chris Auty, head of parent group Civilan Content. Auty last year produced Milcho Manchevski's large-scale international co-production Dust for UK National Lottery franchise The Film Consortium, part of the Civilian group.

The Works is currently enjoying success closer to home with hit UK soccer comedy Bend It Like Beckham, which has taken£9m in the UK so far.