07 junho 2010

Meet Miss Universe New Zealand

Amidst a sea of sparkles and hairspray, the winner of Miss Universe New Zealand was crowned last night.

Miss Econo Heat Ria van Dyke topped 12 competitors to take the title, with Miss East Auckland Danijela Unkovich placing runner up and Miss Auckland Caren Freeman second runner up.

Miss van Dyke would now go on to represent New Zealand against 83 other countries at the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas on August 23.

The 21-year-old Aucklander said it was "a real honour" to win the pageant.

"I plan to do this beautiful country proud at Miss Universe."

Miss van Dyke was also named Miss Charity Queen and Miss Potential Model.

She wowed the judges through a series of tasks, including an interview on Friday during preliminary judging, strutting in a bikini and evening wear before the audience last night, and dancing on stage to the Copacabana along with her competitors.

The pageant's national director Val Lott said she was delighted Miss van Dyke had won.

Judging panel head Jack Yan said Miss van Dyke was consistent throughout the judging and spoke from the heart.

Miss van Dyke had a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Psychology and Sociology and aimed to publish a book to help young women build confidence, discover healthy body image and make positive choices.

After celebrating, she would return to Auckland to complete two essays due Monday for her master's degree.

Miss van Dyke was one of six contestants representing a sponsor, rather than a region, due to a drop in the number of regional franchise holders in recent years.

Mrs Lott earlier told NZPA beauty pageants were now experiencing a resurgence and new franchise holders were on the horizon.

Miss Manawatu Trudy Leslie was awarded Miss Friendship, Miss Hutt Valley Mary Cooper was named Miss Personality and Miss Wellington Regan Hillyer was Miss Photogenic.

Miss Freeman also won the swimwear award, while Miss Moontide Zeisha Fremaux won the evening wear award.

Best Hair was awarded to Miss Tuscany Road Fashion Isabelle Pearson.

An auction at the event raised more than $5000 for women's cancer charity Look Good, Feel Better.

Last year's Miss Universe New Zealand, Katie Taylor, spoke of her experience, calling it "beautiful and wondrous", while the hiss of hairspray cans could be heard from backstage.

Miss Taylor said highlights included meeting Miss Universe part-owner Donald Trump and bonding with other contestants at last year's competition in the Bahamas.

She encouraged her successor to "seize the day" and make the most of the opportunities they were offered.


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