2007-08 Miss South Pacific - Apia, Samoa

2007-2008 Miss South Pacific

The Miss South Pacific pageant has celebrated its 20th anniversary of promoting Pacific women and tourism with last November’s event in Apia, Samoa showcasing just how far the event has evolved.

Miss South Pacific 2007-08 Miss Tonga, Tessi Leila Toluta'uThe pageant finale held at the EFKS Hall saw Miss Tonga, Tessi Leila Toluta'u crowned the winner, the first Tongan to win the title in 12 years. Outgoing Miss South Pacific, Krystina Kauvai, of the Cook Islands, passed on her sash and crown to her successor, who is a promotional dancer for the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawaii and an Academic Tutor at Kahuku High School.

The 20 year-old Tongan born beauty was a deserved winner, taking out four of the special categories including Best Traditionally Inspired Attire, Best Sarong, Best Talent and Best Interview.

Tessi admitted being ecstatic and overwhelmed and dedicated her win to her homeland hoping that her achievement would serve as a beacon of hope for her people. While based in Hawai’i with her parents, she has taken a year of work to relocate back to Tonga where she will work for the Tonga Visitor’s Bureau.

The contestants post on the deck of the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, Vailima, Samoa

It was a busy week for the eight contestants, where they attended a number of engagements and events and were introduced to the public during the floral float parade. The Miss South Pacific Pageant is an international event devoted to showcasing the talents and physical attributes of the contemporary Pacific lady, synonymous with the beauty and the friendliness of the people of the Pacific. The event helps to foster tourism and cultural promotion. In that unique capacity it serves to showcase the cultural identity and beauty of Pacific people with the objective of promoting the region to the international arena.

FINAL STANDINGS

Miss South Pacific 2007 - Miss Tonga, Tessi Leila Toluta'u
1st Runner Up
- Miss Cook Islands, Joyce Lucia Regina Fortes
2nd Runner Up - Miss Samoa, Sherry Elekana
3rd Runner Up - Miss Australiana/Torres Strait Island, Tania Michelle Wieclaw
4th Runner Up - Miss American Samoa, Wilhelmina Elizabeth Saelua

Special Categories Winners
Best Traditionally Inspired Attire - Miss Tonga, Tessi Leila Toluta'u
Best Sarong - Miss Tonga, Tessi Leila Toluta'u
Best Talent - Miss Tonga, Tessi Leila Toluta'u
Best Interview - Miss Tonga, Tessi Leila Toluta'u
Best Personality - Miss Australiana/Torres Strait, Tania Michelle Wieclaw
Miss Internet - Miss Samoa, Sherry Elekana
Miss Photogenic - Miss New Zealand International, Kyla Hei Hei
Miss South Pacific Contestants posing inside the Robert Louis Stevenson museum in Vailima, Samoa

Kyla’s unforgettable SPASIFIK experience

Miss New Zealand International, Kyla Hei HeiOf all the contestants competing in the week long pageant, Miss New Zealand International, Kyla Hei Hei, undoubtedly had the most peculiar build-up with SPASIFIK playing a major part in getting her to Samoa.

“Four days before the contest, I got a phone call from the CEO of Miss South Pacific all the way from Samoa inviting me to enter the Miss South Pacific,” she tells SPASIFIK.  “She (CEO) told me that she read about me in the latest SPASIFIK (Issue 23, Nov-Dec) magazine and hunted me down. She explained to me that if it wasn’t for the article she wouldn’t have known that I existed.”

Kyla (Nga Puhi/Ngati Rehia) describes her Samoan experience as “an awesome experience that I will never forget.” She notes in her diary: “One thing that I noticed in Samoa was that beauty queens were very popular.

We were in every newspaper, media constantly followed us and people out on the street were always greeting me and saying “New Zealand, good luck” and some people even knew my name. This is a lot different to New Zealand, though I’m in local newspapers the pageant was never televised. In Samoa the whole process was televised right down to little individual interviews.”

She was delighted to learn that Maori Television had flown over to Samoa as well to film a Tourism documentary and they also followed the Pageant with Kyla as a focus. “This coverage was such a boost of confidence, especially knowing that my country was behind me 100%.

In future I would love it if New Zealand’s media followed pageants, this way young women would see the awesome opportunities and experience they can get.”