Update: Miss American Samoa crowned Miss Pacific Islands 2017
American Samoa ended their 15-year drought in the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant by winning the crown in Nadi, Fiji on Saturday night.
Miss American Samoa, Matauaina Gwendolyn To’omalatai won the crown for the territory in a nailing biting competition. In the special awards, Miss Toomalatai claimed the Best Traditional Wear, Miss Photogenic and Miss Tourism Awards.
The 24-year old was officially announced the winner Saturday night, and was crowned by the outgoing Miss Pacific Islands, Anne Dunn in front of a packed stadium at Prince Charles Park in Nadi, Fiji.
American Samoa last won the title 15 years ago, when Lupe Ane Kenape Aumavae was crowned in the Cook Islands in 2002. This is the sixth time the title has travelled to American Samoa.
In receiving the title, the new Miss Pacific Islands was overwhelmed with emotion and could not hold back tears as she acknowledged everyone, including her father who recently passed away.
“To my dad, I wish you were here,” said the new Miss Pacific Islands with tears of joy. “To my families and friends, to my team and especially to my country, thank you all so much.”
“Thank you American Samoa, I’m truly so blessed to represent such a country. ”Faafetai tele lava, vinaka vakalevu.”
Miss To’omalatai was born in Onenoa, American Samoa, and was studying nursing at the University of Hawaii at Kapi’olani Community College before she entered the Pageant, with her goal of becoming a registered nurse specializing in treatment and care of diabetes patients and brings to this year’s reign an awareness on diabetes.
She recently worked for the American Samoa Visitors Bureau, and will now focus on fulfilling her role as the Pacific Queen.
It was a feeling of warmth witnessed on stage amongst the nine beautiful contestants, in what is a fitting finale to what has been a hectic and fun-filled week of activities for the contestants from around the region, in the place where happiness finds you, Fiji.
On the theme of Climate Change to Sustain our Islands, the judged categories of the Pageant were divided into three nights, with the crowning on the fourth and final night as witnessed also by the Pacific region and around the world, through live stream coverage broadcasted through Fiji TV.
Miss Samoa, Alexandra Iakopo was the 1st runner up and she claimed special prizes which included Miss Internet, Miss Personality, Best Talent and Best Interview.
Miss Fiji followed as 2nd runner up; 3rd runner up is Miss Cook islands; and 4th runner up is Miss Rapanui.
While not placing, Miss Papua New Guinea — Niawali Anastacia Twai won Best sarong.
The nine Pacific Island participants were:
Miss American Samoa — Matauaina Gwendolyn To’omalatai
Miss Cook Islands — Enerstina Pokuia Bonsu-Maro
Miss Fiji — Hally Qaqa
Miss Nauru — Tansy Angelique Itsimaera.
Miss Papua New Guinea — Niawali Anastacia Twai
Miss Miss Samoa — Alexandra Iakopo
Miss Solomon Islands — Emily Chan.
Miss Tonga — Ophelia Kitiliti Kava
The major sponsor for the 2017 Miss Pacific Islands Pageant was the Fijian Government and it was supported by Vodafone Fiji Limited, Nadi Town Council, Miss Fiji Pageant Association, Go Advertising, Pure Fiji, Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, Garden of the Sleeping Giant, Official Sports Activity Wear partner – Qaqa, Opening Night Gown Designer - Mausio Designs.
The Host for the next Miss Pacific Islands Pageant is the Kingdom of Tonga.