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From culture to politics, religion to trade, contestants explain their views

reporters@samoanews.com

The judges for tonight’s Miss South Pacific Pageant certainly have their work cut out for them. The Miss South Pacific 2012-2013 contestants had a lot to share about issues pertaining to culture, economic development, politics, religion and more during the pre-pageant interview which was held Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 at the Sadie’s by the Sea conference room, before a panel of five judges.

The interviews conducted with all of the young women revealed them to be articulate and thoughtful as they covered various topics for the judges.

The coverage of the first five contestants was published in yesterday’s Samoa News; today we bring you the remaining contestant’s pre-pageant interviews.

MISS PAPUA NEW GUINEA, CULTURE

Miss Papua New Guinea, Ruby-Anne Laufa 20, a university student, noted that “culture is a powerful human tool for survival but it is a fragile phenomenon, it is constantly changing and easily lost because it exists only in our minds”. She said that the written languages, governments, building and other man-made things are merely the products of culture. “They are not culture themselves”.

Miss PNG said, “...for anthropologists and other behavioral scientists, culture is the full range of learned human behavior patterns and it’s a living phenomena. As Pacific islanders, we each have very different and yet similar cultural practices, like tattoos that vary in designs which symbolize similar things”.

She stated that PNG is home to many cultural groups and they contribute to the evolution of a national identity. “It is just one of 800 languages spoken in PNG and is symbolic of our colonial past”.

MIss PNG stated, “...as the preservation of culture becomes the bastion of the old, many younger PNG’s, like other Pacific islands youth, have begin to embrace western cultural practices. The battle to find a balance between who they are—and who their parent’s cultural identity requires them to be—continues to rage”.

She said that our cultural identity as a region has also developed in values such as faith and belief in the importance of family and community and are paramount to the structure of society.

“We are all gathered here this week to participate in a pageant that celebrates and shares our individual cultures and yet, with this diversity we continue to find commonality in the things that make us one” said Miss PNG.

She added that recently PNG has begun to record the stories of their ancestors, creation myths, fables in writing, as in the Pacific region traditional transference of knowledge from one generation to the next can be shared.

“No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive and so we must move forward and embrace change, global influences, and the notion of rebirth.

“I am proud to say that I feel the emergence of a strong and vibrant culture in our island because we are Pasifika”.

MISS AOTEAROA, TRADE

Miss Aotearoa, Marlena Martin 25, a nurse and model, was given the topic of trade, “which is the transfer of ownership of good and services from one person to another by getting something in exchange from the buyer”. Miss Aotearoa said, she was fortunate to grow up and view firsthand the development of trade among her people and the Europeans.

She said in the 1800’s the Maori people traded food and other products over long distances between the tribes.

“Maori tribes who lived in a coastal areas offered seafood to the inland tribes, who in turn offered fruits, meat and products from the forest.” She further explained that once European sellers came to the Maori, the trading focus was switched from the people to the Europeans, in the 1900’s.

“New Zealand became increasingly industrious and began to flourish economically over the crowding of sellers, and the need for them to possess land became a huge trading business, eventually leaving Maori outnumbered and without a lot of their lands”.

She added however, a treaty was held between the Maori and Europeans, who were allowed to reside in Aotearoa, and the Maori did not give up their customary rights to the land and its surrounding waters. She added that trading became a form of income for society to grow and to create employment for the community.

“This extended to developing business relationships internationally, where Maori traded with the South Pacific and Australia”.  She said that New Zealand has developed into a country with primary exports such as lamb, beef, timber and dairy products. 

MISS SOLOMON ISLANDS, RELIGION

Miss Solomon Islands, Stephanie Prince. 22. a Sales and Marketing Salesperson spoke about religion.

“Religion is a belief system whereby every individual has a right to having a belief to how they interpret their existence in a more spiritual context and the ethics that come with it.  This doesn’t necessarily have to be a belief in a certain church or religion, these belief systems could also come from a cultural perspective, where a group of people have strong views on their existence, coming from traditional ancestral spirits.”

“This may cause certain people to live a certain way and do certain things as part of the lifestyle they choose, to give them a more solid foundation in their belief” she said.

Miss Solomon Islands said the word religion is sometimes exchanged for the word - faith or belief system, while in the Pacific region, the dominant faith would be Christian, those who believe in the teachings of Jesus the Nazareth.

“Religions are to promote good, within any community, good being— health, family relations, education and morality”. Miss Solomon Islands also spoke about the unfortunate disadvantages of religion, not only in the Pacific region but elsewhere in the World. She said, sometimes the disadvantage, is the trust that some religious leaders abuse to get away with evil deeds. Another is how the youth of today tend to turn a blind eye on certain religious groups because they are too busy getting carried away with the world and its modern influences.

MISS AMERICAN SAMOA, HEALTH

Miss American Samoa, Arrielle Maloata 21, an Army Reservists spoke about health. She noted that health is a general condition of a person’s body and mind, being free from illness, injury or pain and it is an issue amongst the people of the South Pacific.

She said that the South Pacific people are dying in the early stages of their lives, due to diseases. 80% of Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) are the leading cause of death in the Pacific and a medical condition or disease that is non-infectious, non transmissible but is common among the South Pacific people, is being overweight.

“Being overweight makes a woman feel uncomfortable with the way she looks, her thoughts of others, judging her on her physical appearance, which will eventually affect her self esteem, and with the frustration, she may even end up with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease, because she’s overweight.”

She said, however, we know what is not good for us, food-wise, and yet we still choose to enjoy the foods that can lead us six feet under.

“Living healthy starts with you and me, and education is the key. When there is a full understanding on how important your health is, you can become more eager to stay healthy, educating yourself makes your aware of the different types of food you consume and managing your daily portions”.

Miss American Samoa said physical activities and daily chores like farming, fishing and landscaping, can help your body stay physically healthy.  She also said that having a clear, optimistic mind-set, makes a huge difference.

“Strive to exercise a little bit more throughout the week, and always keep in mind that  stress free is important”. Miss American Samoa says that she would tap into villages, government, schools and families to promote awareness of healthy living.

MISS SAMOA, POLITICS

Miss Samoa, Janine Tuivaiti spoke about politics which she believes, is about the activities associated with the governance of a country, or area. “Politics is the key to economic and social development and when enhancing both, is a key pillar of the enhancement of our people”.

She said that the true essence of the Pacific, is in its people. “We, who live in the region and call it home, our Pacific people, have always been known for our reverence of and for each other”, and emphasis of the family, village and church are a testament to this.

She said the significance of the people as a collective, is reflected in the way we have traditionally organized our societies, the role of the individuals within the family, the role of the family within the village, the role of the village within the nation.

Miss Samoa believes that it’s only pivotal that our political system reflect this and politics should benefit the people, strengthen and uphold culture and should be organized around differentiated customs we cherish.

She explained the history of Pacific politics, when western development theory was in practice by the people, especially those most vulnerable in society, who have not been at the center of these policies.

Miss Samoa noted that the impact of politics on economic growth is good but only if it benefits our people. “And it is the investment, that we as a Pacific region need to make, to ensure that our people are able to take advantage of the benefits of increased economic growth” she said.

Miss Samoa noted that in the region we live in, women have the lowest rates of participation in parliaments and government, which is something that needs to be addressed urgently.

She added that as a region, we have the knowledge, wisdom and expertise to articulate what we want to see in the Pacific rather than cutting and pasting policies from developed countries. “We have a prime opportunity as a region to think critically about our next steps forward and to ensure these steps enhance our people, which are the treasurers of the Pacific.



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