17 Aug 2012

Former beauty queen backs Maori pageant

6:28 pm on 17 August 2012

A former Maori beauty queen backing the Miss Aotearoa pageant says such contests are still relevant and help boost the self-esteem of young wahine.

Eight contestants have been selected - from 50 young women who entered in June - to compete in the 2012 Miss Aotearoa competition.

The pageant is based on the Maori contestants' culture and heritage rather than focussing on their looks.

Maureen Waaka - who was first Maori woman to be crowned Miss New Zealand in 1962 - says the events encourage young wahine to stand tall and be proud of who they are.

She says there is a unique beauty that comes with just being a young Maori woman and the confidence that exudes from that.

Ms Waaka says there's still a place for beauty pageants as well, and it's important to draw the distinction between cultural pageants such as Miss Aotearoa and the international events which are based on different criteria.

Miss Aotearoa 2012 will be crowned in Napier on 15 September and will go on to represent New Zealand in the Miss South Pacific pageant. which is also based on contestants' culture and heritage.