MISS PACIFIC ISLAND PAGEANT
The crowning of Miss Pacific Islands will be held at the Stanley Hotel and Suites in Port Moresby tomorrow evening. Prime Minister James Marape and other dignitaries from the region will attend the event.
Current Miss Pacific Leoshina hosted the contestants in Port Moresby this week when they enteracted with city residents and urban village communities. Meet the girls…
TWENTY-year-old Epifania Petelo believes that behind every girl is a journey, a story, something that she is passionate about which she brings to the Miss Pacific Islands pageant.
She says “We are not just here to put on a show, but behind the scenes, we are also learning about different cultures which broaden our view of the Pacific. We are given a platform such as MPIP to share our experiences. And I believe that is an amazing thing.
“I am a part of a culture that has and continues to instil in me confidence, faith, endurance and humility. Coming from all over the Pacific with our own stories to share and with our own purposes, will be empowering.
Miss Petelo is a student majoring in Business Management at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), the current Vice President of Phi Theta Kappa Honour Society, a member of the Student Government Association in ASCC.
Upon winning the title of Miss American Samoa and the role of tourism ambassador for her country, she took up employment at the American Samoan Visitors Bureau.
She said an issue of great concern was the lack of women representation in government and other areas.
“One of the most significant issues I believe that women are facing in my country and Pacificwide is the lack of women representation in all aspects (government, organizations, etc). Women are less likely than men to be in leadership positions.
“In 2015, Amata Coleman Radewagen was the first female to be in Congress in American Samoa. It took several years for our country to have a female Congress member. In addition, our House of Representatives, for example, are far more likely to be men than women. Currently, we only have two females in the Legislature of American Samoa/American Samoa Fono.”
NINETEEN-year-old Miss Cook Islands, Terito-o-Ngakura Story is a part-time runway model and enjoys dancing and sports.
Miss Story is from Akatokamanava (Mauke) in the Cook Islands and is currently studying Marine Science at Auckland University in New Zealand.
A month ago she was crowned Miss Cook Islands New Zealand and will represent her home islands in the Miss Pacific Islands pageant in PNG from 24 November to 30 November.
Miss Story was the overall winner at the Miss Cook Islands New Zealand held in New Zealand and won the Best Talent and Best Sarong (Pareo tie) awards.
She said the pageant had provided the contestants a way to celebrate their culture despite being away from the island home.
Miss Story hopes to complete her studies in Auckland and return home to work.
“It is a goal of mine to return to the Cook Islands with the knowledge I have gained through Auckland University to assist my country and to do my part in preserving the marine environment in my islands.
“I hope the journey I am on will equip me for my future so that I am better educated to serve my country and benefit my people. By pursuing a degree in marine science, an aspiration of mine is to be able to help assist, protect and rehabilitate the majority of marine species as well as our other natural resources.”
Miss Cook Islands New Zealand is one of several different pageants held every year in the Cook Islands and in New Zealand for Cook Islanders. This year Miss Cook Islands pageant was held for representation to Miss Universe, in addition to Miss World, Miss Grand International 2020 and Miss Cook Islands 2019 Coronation.
TWENTY-four-year old Jessica Margaret Rose Fong is this year’s Miss Fiji having won the crown a week ago (Friday, Nov 15).
She is a student and her journey began when she participated in the Miss Hibiscus pageant as the Queen for the Fiji Society for the Blind.
The pageant hosted a charity chest where each Queen raised funds for charitable causes with the Fiji Society of the Blind being one of the recipients to the charity funds.
“Being able to support charitable organisation was the main contributing factor to my pageant journey. I then competed and won the Miss Fiji pageant and I am honoured to represent my country and people in the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant. As an Ambassador for my island country, my contribution to this prestigious Miss Pacific Island Pageant will be to showcase the natural beauty and friendliness of our people in Fiji. I will also use this platform to advocate for gender equality in our region, to be a voice for the voiceless, standing up for all women marginalised in the workplace or in society as a whole.”
Miss Fong said the most pressing issue affecting women in her country and in the Pacific is gender equality.
“We live in patriarchal societies and in most cases, the traditional mindset is that men should make decisions on all issues most Fijians value highly, be it the land, the home and family or the church. However, this is the 21st century and women now play a major role in organising and management of these assets. They have a different view of things as they see things from a woman’s perspective as a sister, aunt, mother or grandmother where the feminine instinct kicks in such as the humane values of care, patience, kindness, love, empathy and sympathy. I believe that God did not create any inferior human being nor did He create one to be better than the other but as equals.”
THE first ever Miss Marshall Islands is 24-year-old student Billma Krystalena Peter.
Her ambition is to complete her education and use it to contribute positively towards her country and people’s development as she believes strongly that education is a powerful tool of change.
Miss Peter was one of 23 contestants in Miss Marshall Islands pageant held early this year with each contestant representing each atoll that forms the Republic of Marshall Islands; a Micronesian country headed by a female leader and a champion of Climate Change Action, Ms Hilda Heine.
Miss Peter said she entered her country’s first ever Pageant because she wanted to raise awareness on the importance of education and access to healthcare.
“I believe that education is important, as the world changes we must continue to learn and change along with it. The girl child is born into a system of stereotypes and under-representation; education is a vital pathway for her to learn that she can master any field she decides to pursue.
“I wanted to use this platform to set an example to the youth, especially my younger sisters.”
NINETEEN-year-old Miss Nauru, Millenia Eidibea Finch was born on Nov 29, 1999, on the eve of the new millennium.
“I was named Millenia by my mother and aunt because of my birth date which just fell short of the new millennium. My middle name Eidibea was also named by my mother and was the name of my great-great-great grandmother.”
Millenia is currently enrolled at the University of the South Pacific Nauru Campus doing preliminary studies in pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree, particularly in the Agricultural sector.
“I love to plant all sorts of plants and flowers and would spend hours beautifying my garden.
As a member of Nauru’s newly established Nauru Growers Association (NGA) I enjoy learning and helping our local farmers produce local greens and promoting our cause. This is something I am very proud to be part of and would like to see it continue to grow into a bigger and more successful organisation.
“I enjoy travelling abroad, tasting new food, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. I value spending time with family and friends as well as reading a good book in my own time. One of my all-time favourite things to do is to go to the beach. It is so calming and relaxing.”
Her immediate goal is to complete her studies in agriculture and to work closely with the local people.
THE Miss Pacific Islands Pageant is a wonderful opportunity and an important platform to be a part of to use one’s life experience of education and sport to encourage and inspire young women to make the most of opportunities available to better themselves, according to Miss Papua New Guinea, Lucy Maino.
Co-captain of the PNG women’s soccer team that won the gold medal at the Pacific Games in Samoa in July this year, Miss Maino believes that there is so much untapped potential simply because women are not afforded or encouraged to be part of formal education let alone higher education.
Miss Maino completed her early education in California, United States and won a soccer scholarship to the University of Hawaii where she completed a degree in business management in May this year.
She said inequality was a major concern for islands women.
“Where there is inequality in opportunities for women in all spheres of life and living, humanity cannot prosper and reach its full potential. Half the world is made up of women, yet the majority of women are given less pay for same work done by our male counterparts, less opportunities for promotion to leadership positions in public and private enterprises and at the very core, if choices have to be made whether to educate a male or female child in the Pacific, guaranteed the male child will get preference when family finances are limited.
She said half the country’s population is female and the majority is youth.
My name is Fonoifafo Nancy McFarland Seumanu. I am 24 years old, a public health nurse by profession, a dance and music enthusiast, and Miss Samoa 2019.
I am excited to be part of this year’s Miss Pacific Islands Pageant, representing my homeland. I am eager to meet each one of my Pacific sisters and get to know them.
I hope throughout the pageant week, we will exemplify the beauty of each of our culture and country that make the Pacific Islands vibrant and unique.”
As a registered nurse Miss Seumanu hopes to convey a message to the Pacific people to take seriously the basics about living a healthy lifestyle through regular health checks, basic health education and immunisation.
She said, “I want to connect with my sister contestants and in the Pacific spirit use our roles to make a difference however small to the lives of our Pacific youth. Our every action, opinion or statement matters and can live a lasting impression on our Pacific people.”
She said the most pressing issue affecting women in the Pacific region was gender equality.
“Women in the Pacific are some of the most vulnerable groups that are impacted by gender inequality. This includes having less access to higher education, health care (primary maternal health care) and less political representation. Cultural norms in the Pacific continue to take its hold in preventing women from progressing in areas of education, employment, health and politics. Too often, our cultural perception continues to remain slanted in the notion that the role of a woman is only within the home. On the contrary, Pacific women have so much that they can offer in different sectors of their respective countries.”
“OUR country’s industry contributes very little to the acceleration of global warming and, in turn, sea level rise and climate change. Yet, we are the ones facing its negative impacts on the frontline. We have learnt to adapt and fight but we can’t do it on our own. I believe as people of planet earth and climate change action fighters, we can do more to slow down this harmful process. We need global support. Let us stand together and protect what we have left of our heritage.”
This is a bold statement made by 24-year-old Gladys Habu, Miss Solomon Islands who will to represent her country. She is part Papua New Guinean, a graduate in Pharmacology (with Honours) from Monash University in Melbourne, and a climate change action champion. She is currently intern pharmacist at the National Referral Hospital, Honiara.
Gladys’s mother is from the Trobriand Islands, in Milne Bay. She is the granddaughter of Late Dennis Young, the former speaker of the PNG National Parliament. Her father is from Guadalcanal.
If you Google Kale Island, the name Gladys Habu and her story ‘No more laughter on the beach’: One woman’s emotional return to the small islands now under water’ about the sinking island of Kale in Santa Isabel, Guadalcanal will come up.
Not only is she a stunner with brains, Miss Habu’s concern for her sinking islands were featured early this year in a British television documentary on ITV news in London – see link below.
Her island’s story was also featured on 60 Minutes on Australia’s Channel 9 with journalist Liam Bartlett in support of research done by Queensland University’s Dr Simon Albert.
TWENTY-two-year old Herevai Hoata is a French Polynesian or Tahitian Polynesian young woman who believes she is enjoying the best of both worlds – traditional and modern, that her island has to offer.
Miss Hoata has a degree in Communication and Information and works for a local TV channel as a weather reporter. She aspires to one day become a news journalist.
She was the winner of Miss Heiva 2019 in April this year.
“Miss Heiva is a representative of our cultures; she is the ambassador of our dances, languages, songs and much more. Growing up, culture and traditions have always been part of my life, that’s why receiving this title was such an honour for me,” she said.
Miss Hoata said she was looking forward to going to PNG and would do her best to represent her island at the Miss Pacific Islands pageant in Port Moresby this week.
Miss Hoata will be one of 12 contestants vying for the crown and title of Miss Pacific Islands now being held by Papua New Guinean Leoshina Kariha.
“I always believe that to be true to one’s roots is the foundation of anyone’s life and the wings to one’s future”, she said.
Miss Hoata credits her family and friends for moulding her into the young woman she is today.
“My two brothers shaped my love for adventures, and my parents made me aware of my choices. I feel I am strong, determined, courageous, optimistic and conscious of my environment and surroundings.”
She said the Miss Pacific Islands pageant was providing an enviable opportunity for young women to discover the beautiful cultures and traditions as well as to share common ideas.
MALO e lelei!
Pleased to meet you all or how they say in our beautiful host country of Papua New Guinea, Mi hamamas lo bungim yupla!
My name is Yehenara Soukop, I am 20 years of age and I am the current reigning Miss Tonga (Heilala) 2019-2020.
It is an honor and a blessing to be able to represent my country and I am eager to meet the rest of the beautiful pageant queens who will be in Papua New Guinea to represent their respective countries!
See you all soon Tu’a ofa atu.”
Above is a message sent by Miss Tonga 2019 Yehenara Soukop who hails from the villages of Pelehake, Ma’ufanga, Fou’i, Neiafu and Toula (Vava’u), and Kotu and ‘Uiha (Ha’apai) in Tonga.
However she was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii and is a student at the University of Hawaii majoring in Political Science. Miss Soukop is also a professional dancer and is proud of her Polynesian heritage.
“Throughout my school years I was involved in clubs such as speeches, poetry, and even helped create the Polynesian Club in High School and served as President.
At the age of 14, I got my first job as a professional dancer for a luau in Waikiki to help my family financially, but little did I know that this job would spark my love for dance and a passion to share a piece of our Pacific cultures with those near and far.”
At just 16, she Miss Soukop started dancing for Tihati Productions, the largest and longest running production company in Hawaii.
TWENTY-five-year old assistant tourism officer, Tapua Vavale Pasuna is the 2019 Miss Tuvalu representing her country at the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant in PNG in November this year.
Just last month Miss Pasuna represented Tuvalu at the United Nations Youth Climate Change Summit in New York, and also as Peace Boat Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador.
She said, “I am the second daughter born into a country known for its culture and togetherness. I am proud to say that I was not only raised by my immediate family but the community of Tuvalu – a common story for any Tuvaluan. Community living developed my passion for my land, people, culture and ocean. Through the years, I have been passionate about working with youth, not only in Tuvalu but abroad, with the purpose to empower young women through education, both formal and informal, a solution to saving our home and identity.”
Miss Pasuna is a keen public speaker and dancer, who loves Pacific art.
“I have represented Tuvalu at various international events. These opportunities allowed me to promote the culture of Tuvalu and amplify our voices as the sole protectors of our future and our identities.”
She hopes to study law and arts (international relations) in New Zealand’s Victoria University.
“The opportunity to do first year law and arts (international relations) at the Victoria University, in New Zealand motivates me to strive to become a successful woman who can one day contribute to my country’s development,” she said.
Currently her role as assistant tourism officer for the Tuvalu government keeps her busy and gives her the opportunity to promote her country.
EIGHTEEN-year-old Violène Blondel is looking forward to being in Papua New Guinea to represent her home Wallis and Futuna in the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant (MPIP) as it has been 12 years since Miss Wallis and Futuna entered the pageant.
The French Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands is in the Polynesian group of the South Pacific nestled halfway between Tonga, Tuvalu, Fiji and the Samoas. The Territory celebrated its national day on 29 July with the staging of Miss Wallis and Futuna Pageant.
“I am very proud to represent my islands as cultural ambassador at this year’s MPIP because it’s an opportunity for me to show and promote my culture and traditions and to share them with the rest of the Pacific.
“Our cultural similarities with some of the Pacific Islands are amazing like language and traditions with Samoa and Tonga who are our ancestors, also with Tuvalu, Niue and Tahiti, This make me feel like being part of a big Pacific family – that’s what I believe being a cultural ambassador is, being part of a big Pacific family.
As one of the representatives of the Pacific’s French territories, Miss Blondel said she wanted to share her unique heritage with other contestants and to enrich the diversity of the pageant.
“This pageant is a platform to not only promote the role of young woman as mothers, farmers, entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow but it allows us to work together to agree on our expectations and our role in building the future of our region.
“We want peace in our region, sustainable development and respect of our cultures. To ensure this platform has a future we need the support of our governments, of our business houses and all those in a position to ensure it has the resources and capacity to continue to offer us young women, an opportunity to raise awareness of our hopes for our region and for the world.”