MISS SAMOA CROWNED NEW McDONALD’S MISS SOUTH PACIFIC 2012
Miss Samoa, who was born in New Zealand, was crowned last night as the new Miss South Pacific during the 25th anniversary of the regional pageant hosted this year by American Samoa with McDonald's as the major sponsor.
Twenty-year old Janine Tuivaiti was up against nine other contestants from the region including Miss American Samoa. As the new Miss South Pacific, she also receives a $2,500 cash prize.
The contestants were judged last night on four categories: sarong, talent, traditional wear and interview. For the special awards, Tuivaiti won best traditional wear and best talent.
Best sarong award went to Miss Papua New Guinea Ruby-Anne Laufa while there was no special award for the interview category.
Tuivaiti’s question for the interview was: “The Pacific Islands rely heavily on trade for economic survival. But for many of our countries, we import more than we export. If crowned Miss South Pacific, what would you do to encourage stronger export markets and how would you do this.”
Miss Samoa first acknowledged the importance of trade, saying that it is “one of the key objectives for economic stability within our country, within our region and within our islands. I believe that it is crucial and pivotal for us to accept export.”
“However, not at the expense of our culture. We need to maintain what makes us special and what makes us unique,” she continued. “Our environment and our culture - this is what that sets us apart from other nations of the world.”
“And we are the guardians of our own little piece of that world and we must maintain and protect us,” she said. “It is crucial and pivotal for us to receive export that presents opportunities for jobs and income and it helps improve our economic and social development. Not only this, but I believe that export helps our people develop and we must be aware of this.”
“And if I were to be crowned Miss South Pacific, I would educate myself with the export within this industry, what people who would help, and also our government bodies who work along side export and trade,” she added.
Born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, the new Miss South Pacific is the eldest of three girls and she is pursuing a Bachelor conjoint of Law and Arts at the University of Auckland. “My future endeavour is to continue on to a higher qualification and become a successful judge,” Tuivaiti wrote in her pageant bio.
First runner-up went to Miss Cook Islands, second running-up Miss Fiji, third runner-up Miss Papua New Guinea and 4th runner-up Miss American Samoa. Each of these contestants also received cash prizes.
In other special awards, Miss Internet went to Miss American Samoa; Miss Personality to Miss Hawaiian Islands; Miss Photogenic to Miss Samoa; and National Tourism Award to Miss Papua New Guinea.
Each special award came with $250 cash prize and all of the cash prizes were provided by McDonald’s which operates and manages the McDonald’s franchise in American Samoa and Samoa.
The out-going Miss South Pacific Alisi Rabukawaqa of Fiji gave her final speech prior to relinquishing her crown last night. She spoke of the last 12 months of her reign and the events she participated in, representing the region.
To the contestants, “I encourage you to stand firm in your convictions, fully utilize this occasion to built your characters, values and beliefs”, she said and took her final walk on stage as the reigning Miss South Pacific.
At the start of the pageant, there were special remarks from Gov. Togiola Tulafono, who noted that this would be the third time during his term in office that American Samoa played host to the pageant.
He said one of the best things about the Miss South Pacific is that “who ever wins, she represents all of us, not just the country where she comes from.”
Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister, Fonotoe N.P. Lauofo, who is also acting chair of the Miss South Pacific board of directors also addressed the audience. He says the pageant was established some 25 years ago in Samoa by tourism leaders of the region with the “vision of an event to promote the unique attributes and talents of a Pacific island lady, and also to promote the Pacific islands, and their cultures as tourist destinations of much serenity and natural beauty.”
He acknowledged that the pageant was webcast live on the internet and this is “an opportunity to showcase American Samoa...with an ancient Polynesian culture, pristine natural environment and a proud people.”
See tomorrow’s edition for more details from the pageant as well as photos.