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Pre-pageant interviews show contestants' issues savvy

The pre-pageant interviews are one of the most important aspects of the Miss South Pacific Pageant, as they give insight into the ideas and ideals of the young ladies vying for the coveted crown.

The interviews were held at Sadie’s by the Sea conference room yesterday morning, where each of the ten contestants was given five minutes to speak on topics selected for them such as education, culture and tourism before a panel of five judges and members of the public.

Their answers revealed that the 10 contestants, while from a kaleidoscope of backgrounds, careers and interests, are articulate and well-informed young women, who have found common threads to weave into life-changing moments through their participation in the Miss South Pacific Pageant.


Miss Tokelau, Peki Teata, 25 years old, is an educator, and she was given the topic of Tourism.

She said that tourism is at the core of bringing people into a country for sightseeing, visiting the country’s attractions, seeing the culture and memorial sights. “Tourism generates revenue to build economies and improves development and welfare of any country” she said.

Miss Tokelau noted the importance of tourism which generates revenue to assist in building countries and island nations. She added that tourism is also an avenue to provide economic development and stability for a country as it can create employment opportunities which lead to healthier communities and nations and also the development of infrastructure, education and health.

The challenge associated with tourism, she said, is that it can have an influence on the culture. “While tourism supports promotion of culture, it can also change cultures, and shape behaviors,” she said.

“The interactions amongst people and exposure of young people—especially to other cultures and new ways— can be an opening to changing cultural ways. Our young people are very vulnerable as they are expected to keep their culture alive and be the carrier of cultural knowledge for the next generation” she said.

Miss Tokelau made it clear she feels tourism is important, given that it promotes culture and generates local revenue, however it also brings social challenges for the country and its people. “But with a well managed political and social environment, it will enable tourism to grow and address the challenges and improve the welfare of any country.”


Miss Fiji, Dure Slatter, 19 years, is a university student who was given the topic of early childhood education (ECE).

“Research has shown that the early years of life are the most active time of brain development and this phase is often neglected in the Pacific,” she said, adding that early education should focus on the child “holistically.”

Miss Fiji pointed out that the Pacific education development framework serves as the perfect guideline to structuring early childhood education. “This is to nurture, develop and prepare all children in the region so that they are able to live life to the fullest, able to participate effectively in national developments, maintain their traditional and cultural identities and sustain themselves in the face of globalization” she said.

Miss Fiji said that ECE should always be a community-driven initiative, as the young child’s first learning environment is always the home and local community.

She said, in any beauty pageant around the world, solutions to a lot of issues presented would be education and awareness. “Solving a problem by awareness— by liberation from ignorance— is what education does, it liberates” said Miss Fiji.


Miss Cook Islands, Kate Ngatokura, 22, is a graphic designer and layout artist. Given the topic of Environment, she spoke about the beautiful environment of every Pacific island.

“At the beginning of time God entrusted his creation into our hands. We have a responsibility to care for mother nature for we are nourished by the bounty of the land and sea, from plants we make medicines, fashion traditional clothing and construct shelter and from the sky falls rain that quenches our thirst and sustains all living things.

“There are the true treasures of our world, treasures that we often take for granted,” she said. Miss Cook Islands said her heart is heavy given the changes in the environment — hillsides stripped of vegetation, taro plantations reclaimed for housing, and pollution in streams running into the lagoons and oceans.  

“By our own hand we have changed the natural flow of our waterways, we create waste that causes pollution and further devastation” she said.

Miss Cook Islands said the solution is to minimize pollution and manage the changes affecting our environment.

She said that in the Cook Islands they have a “Clean up the Ocean Day” where divers clean rubbish in the lagoons and  the ocean. She pointed out that what we do now will determine our future, the choice is ours alone. “We must protect and care for one of our greatest treasures — our Environment”.


Miss Hawai’i, Joy Saleapaga 26, a flight attendant, spoke about the advantages of technology and the importance of its advancement for the South Pacific.

“With Polynesia resting in the bosom of the Pacific Ocean our island societies are connected by the bridges of today’s technology, such as cellphones, telephones, computers, radio, television and so forth”.

She pointed out that health is an area where technology is useful in raising awareness in the Pacific, and education is another example of the advances of technology, given that information can be researched on the internet, which allows the children to be more competitive in their respective fields, such as science, medicine and sports

Technology also brings families separated by great distance closer, with emails and video chats, which makes it easier to connect and noted that the biggest area influenced by technology is communication.

Miss Hawai’i said that every contestant who’s competing in this contest was contacted through phone calls or by email.

“We are all faced with issues in health, environment, culture, politics and sports and so on. I know each young woman here today can stand and share ideas and issues of our own islands, but what if we looked outside of that and come together— and instead of being ten voices, we come as one strong voice. “…with one voice, addressing these relative issues” said Miss Hawai’i.

She said that technology plays a big role in the improvement of cultures and communities in the South Pacific, and given the new technologies, it can help orchestrate the preservation and the perpetuation of things that are important to the South Pacific.  


Miss Tonga Ebony Nuku, 24, works as an Assistant Manager.  She spoke about sportsmanship and how it unites people and builds national pride. She named a few sports stars who have come from humble beginnings, for instance, the Rock-Dwayne Johnson, Jonah Lomu, Michael Jones, Natasha Kai and Haloti Ngata.

She said, “If love is known as the universal language, then I believe that sports should also be recognized as a universal language, because as with love, it transcends geographical boundaries, nationalities, languages, race, color and creed.”

“Sport encourages development in so many aspects of life for the individual, which in turn creates a rippling effect on the community, country and region through economic, social, academic, political, health and tourism growth” said Miss Tonga.

For tourism, she noted how it is beneficial in raising the profiles and visibility of the Pacific island countries on the world stage.

“The exposure our countries get from the success of our sports teams, and personalities is so great that it would only be fair to say that we owe a lot of our success in the targeted marketing we do to the visibility brought about by our sports stars.”

Miss Tonga said the benefits sports brings to the economy are found when there are major sports events — with food vendors, taxi operators and security, to name a few getting a boost.

Sports offers an avenues to combat Non Communicable Diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity, she noted, by helping people to lead active lives.

Miss Tonga said that sports help people to develop so many good values such as respect, discipline, hard work, time management, commitment, dedication, good sportsmanship, teamwork, unity loyalty, reliability and trust.

Samoa News will report on the five remaining contestant interviews in tomorrow’s edition.