MISS PACIFIC ISLANDS, LATAFALE AUVA'A, TALKS ABOUT HER REIGN
A University of Otago law student has been crowned Miss Pacific Islands, her third beauty pageant victory in the space of a year.Third-year law and music student Latafale Auva'a (21) was crowned in Samoa last month after previously winning the Miss Samoa NZ and Miss Samoa titles.Ms Auva'a said her whirlwind success over the past year was a ''tad bit overwhelming'', but she was pleased to have the opportunity to make a difference in the Samoan community.''It was an amazing experience and I was so blessed to have such a great outcome,'' she said.''Commitment, a prayer and patience were key to my success and I had a lot of encouragement from Samoan communities all over the globe, especially in New Zealand.''She swept all the major categories in the pageant, which were a talent competition, an on-stage interview, sarong and traditionally inspired dress.The pageant, which was made up of the winners of national pageants across the Pacific, was different from the usual.''It is a holistic pageant that focuses not just on aesthetics but the intelligence, heart and grace of the women.''Half of the marks were based on a pre-pageant interview where judges tested participants on issues affecting the Pacific, including climate change and gender equality.She put much of her success down to her education, which included studying at the University of Otago.She wished to thank all those who had supported her in New Zealand, including her family in Auckland, her church in Dunedin and Faculty of Law Dean Prof Mark Henaghan.This year she was taking a gap year from her studies, apart from taking a music paper by correspondence, and would spend much of her time in Samoa.''This decision is so I can put the best effort into my role as Miss Pacific Islands.