Natalia’s grace, confidence in her culture and identity, beauty and intelligence saw her crowned Miss Cook Islands 2015 last Saturday night, and now her eyes are set on the global Miss World Pageant.
Natalia set 2015 as a year dedicated to carving out the best possible version of herself .
And the 21-year old Bachelor of Business graduate says the Miss Cook Islands journey was the perfect environment to grow.
Inspired by a friend who joined Miss Niue and become more confident, Natalia decided she would join Miss Cook Islands.
“This year I wanted to become the best version of myself, not just as a role model, but also spiritually and focussing on my overall wellbeing,” says the articulate young woman who works at her grandfather Iaveta Short’s tourism accommodation, Moana Sands.
“It has been a massive learning curve,” says Natalia of her journey.
“I loved the experience from preparing with the girls for our fun Rio Carnivale night where we were just being katukanga, right up to the competition shows.”
Natalia says she committed to giving the whole experience her best effort regardless of the final outcome.
And she says her success in being crowned Miss Cook Islands is all credit to her team.
“My team was my backbone and all credit goes to them, especially my chaperone and other mum Jane (Rubena).”
Natalia’s team spent many long days and nights making her journey a smooth one, from spending a week on planning and creating her jaw-dropping rakei tiare costume, designing her garments and being right behind her at every turn on the journey.
As she was crowned Miss Cook Islands, Natalia was still letting the fact she had won sink in and as it did, it was her family that came to her mind, drawing emotional tears of pride.
“I couldn’t believe it,” says Natalia who was stunned by the final result of the pageant.
With crown and sash firmly fixed, Natalia is looking forward to her Miss World Pageant journey.
“I never thought I’d ever enter a global competition like the Miss World.”
She says she will do nothing short of her absolute best.
“I want to put the Cook Islands on the map!
“I will do my absolute best to fulfil the responsibilities that comes with the title of Miss Cook Islands,” says Natalia, who thanks all her family, her awesome team and everyone who got behind “Team Nat.”
Natalia also has the full support of Miss Cook Islands first runner-up Miss Earth Cook Islands, Allanah Herman-Edgar.
She says supporting Miss Cook Islands 2015 Natalia Short is not an obligation that comes with her title but something that she would have done – title or not.
The 21-year old, who graduated with a Bachelor of Business Analysis majoring in Accounting, is already well into preparing for the Miss Earth pageant to be staged in Vienna in less than a month.
With the full support of her family and a dedicated team led by chaperone Maeva Henry, Allanah says the pageant experience has been hugely beneficial for her personal and professional development.
She says that the huge effort and dedication shown by her team.
They spent more than 14-hours on her stunning Rakei tiare cape and five hours solid creating her anthurum garment, only drove her to do her absolute best and do them all proud, including the Mangaia community who were right behind her.
This meant she had to step out of her comfort zone, another reason Allanah says she joined the Miss Cook Islands pageant.
Being presented with the Miss Cook Islands Earth title by former Miss Cook Islands Margaret Numanga, who she works with at the Audit Office, was a special moment says Allanah.
Both confident young Cook Islands women say they are grateful to the Miss Cook Islands Association president Dianna Clarke and her team for all that they did to create a pageant that focused on the development of the contestants.
Treating the young women well and providing a stage for them to shine was imperative, says Clarke.
Just as important was creating a strong culture and identity focus for the pageant which was very much evident throughout the competition.
Miss Cook Islands 2015 Natalia Short and Miss Earth Cook Islands 2015 Allanah Herman-Edgar would like to share their aroa and meitaki to the people of the Cook Islands for their support, and say they are prepared to represent the country with pride and honour.