From a field of 122 contestants, Miss Cook Islands Tajiya Sahay has made it to the final round of the talent quest at the Miss World contest in Britain – and she says she is proud and thankful.
The 26-year-old has taken every opportunity to showcase her Cook Islands culture in London – and even though her traditional dance did not place her in the top five, she was still invited to perform at the Miss World Beauty with a Purpose Charity Gala yesterday.
She arrived in an elegant black evening gown, designed by Adrian Pae Vaine-Rere. “I wore my culture with pride tonight,” she said. “We have faith in one another and it was only natural that I chose to wear a dress created by a local designer.”
The traditional symbol on the dress signified the gathering of Cook Islands people, Sahay said. “My journey begins from the bottom of my gown and works its way up to the top, using the motif symbol which represents unity and the people following me on my path and journey.
“We also incorporated the mother of pearl, which is shaped into the motif to connect the creation. Each pearl is different and has a unique attribute, just like the people of the Cook Islands!”
Sahay said there had been incredible talents showcased this year from artists, contemporary dancers, “out of this world” singers and instrumental acts. “For the Cook Islands to make it to the top 27 I felt amazing and proud, very thankful, especially to show the world our island culture,” she said.
The Beauty with a Purpose global humanitarian programme is at the heart of Miss World, and is intended to inspire and empower young women around the world to raise awareness and funds for the poor, sick and disadvantaged.
Sahay said: “The best gift is giving. For me Christmas is not about presents but spending quality time with family. I also believe that if you are in a position to help someone in need than there is no greater gift than putting a smile on someone else's face no matter how big or small.”
Sahay has been joined by her motherin the final days ahead of Friday’s grand finale.
Tajiya welcomed her mother’s support. “Having mum here, she is just a ray of sunshine. She is so incredibly happy to see everyone to meet everyone to hear what's going on and I just love sharing this moment with her.
“It's very very special. I am forever grateful that my family came all this way to support me. I missed her hugs.”
During this final week, Ruth says, she only gets to spend time with Sahay in the evenings due to their busy rehearsal schedules – but she loves to see her daughter spreading the kia orana spirit around.
Ruth met some other contestants last night, and Miss Aruba Ghislaine Mejia told her that she is from a small island with a population of only 150,000.
“I tell her, well we are smaller than that, population more like 15,000 and again, some of the girls are coming up to me and saying that they want to come to the Cook Islands.”
“You'd think that I knew these girls, as soon as they saw me, they came and gave me kisses and cuddles, calling me Mummy Cook Islands.”