“Are Cook Islanders the fattest people in the world?”, “What is Social Media?”, “Did you find this winter rather cold?”, “Are we losing our culture?”
These were some of the questions posed and discussed at the weekend opening of the judged sections of the pageant.
The stunning Muri lagoon was the backdrop of the pre-pageant presentations and interviews for the seven contestants vying to succeed current Miss Cook Islands, Teuira Napa.
Staged at Muri Beach Club Hotel, the event was well attended by family and friends of the contestants, the contestant sponsors, chaperones, and supporters. Long-time followers of the Miss Cook Islands Pageant were also in attendance, eager to see the return of the pre-pageant interview section to the Miss Cook Islands Pageant.
Miss Cook Islands Pageant Association (MCIPA) president Clee Marsters said the pre-pageant interview was last staged in 2006.
“I am personally excited to see it return to the pageant programme proper. It is essential preparation for the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant which also features this section”.
The contestants were required to present a three to five minute prepared speech on a given topic.
The topics were chosen by the contestants on the launch night of the pageant over a week ago giving them and their teams time to research and prepare for both the presentation and questions. Each contestant answered two questions posed by the judges. In the week leading up to the presentations MCIPA coordinated a programme of presentations, talks, and lectures with experts and speakers on all topics covered in the pre-pageant interviews.
MCIPA thanks the government agencies and individuals who contributed to this programme.
Contestants also conducted their own research, seeking out experts of their chosen topic to develop their presentations.
Mamia Opuu Miss Ora Fiduciary Pae Tokerau spoke about the state of health in the Cook Islands, and outlined ways in which Cook Islanders can combat non-communicable diseases. She was questioned about easy ways for young people to combat obesity and she suggested simple things like walking to school.
Casey Viti from Atiu and sponsored by Prime Foods, chose to deliver her presentation in Maori, and she spoke about the importance of education and how the government should support teachers.
Viti is a teacher aide in Atiu and was asked what more government could do for teachers like herself.
Swift to reply, she called for more resources for teachers, but also pointed out that government should do more to keep teachers in the Cook Islands.
Miss Vaka Cruise Tepaeru Toka from Aitutaki was next and spoke about the ways in which social media can be used to promote tourism. Toka was clearly familiar with the topic and admitted to being an avid social media user herself.
When asked about social media campaigns she would recommend for tourism, she was adamant that Facebook was the way to go. Angel Williams from Brisbane, Australia was the fourth contestant and her topic was women in business. Williams could call upon a personal example of a businesswoman who is a role model, when she pointed out her sponsor Veera Dean, owner of Fashion and Beauty Station.
Representing Araura Enua and the Cook Islands communities of Australia, Williams spoke of her dream to start her own business and organisation to help young women in the Cook Islands.
Sponsored by Aitutaki Village, Tania Bishop outlined the challenges faced by Cook Islanders when it comes to Climate Change. She spoke of the challenges of changing weather patterns, increased cyclones, and rising sea levels.
Asked which challenge was the most important, she replied that getting used to changes like long periods of dry weather would be the biggest challenge for our communities.
Felicia George, also from Aitutaki and sponsored by Crown Beach Resort, delivered a presentation on culture and the modern influences changing our culture. George shared her experience of growing up with an American mother and Aitutakian father and how that has helped her to appreciate her Cook Islands culture even more.
The final contestant to deliver her presentation was Adoniah Lewis sponsored by High Tide Bar and Grill, and representing Rarotonga and Mangaia. Lewis spoke about technology and the different ways it can help island communities.
Points earned by the contestants in this section will be added to the other judged sections to determine the winner of the 2015 Miss Cook Islands Pageant.
The next event is the talent night at the National Auditorium tomorrow night, before the final event on Saturday.