Seven incredibly talented, beautiful, intelligent, brave Cook Islands women took to the stage in the second and final night of the competition.
The contestants opened the night with a group dance to the Miss Cook Islands theme song “Purotu Manava”, dancing in identical and not-so-typical “little black dresses”.
They all looked stunning. This performance was followed by Te Reo Korero category which required each of the girls to korero Maori for just under a minute.
Section two was the muumuu section where the requirements were that the dresses were long, either fitted or loose and not sleeveless or strapless. A lot of thought, effort, creative design and hours of creative stitching went into each of these gowns. Each one was “personal” to the wearer and told her specific story. And each gown was worn with dignity.
The Traditional Costume category again lifted the benchmark on expectations and told of personal and tribal journeys, intertwined with natural fibres that took hundreds of hours to prepare.
The stage interview was the final category and gave contestants once last chance to impress the judges. Each woman was asked two identical questions (a soundproofed room prevented those who followed from hearing the questions or answers before their turn). The first question was on First Aid, related to a Red Cross workshop the contestants attended last month.
The second question focused on one of the principles of the Kia Orana Values – Peu Maori, what it is and how the contestants thought it could be promoted.
Then came the anxious pause while the judges score sheets were tallied up, Mere Darling sang as only she can during this time.
Three international titles were awarded last night: Teau McKenzie is Miss Grand International Cook Islands 2018 and will represent the Cook Islands at Miss Grand International 2018 at Yangon, Myanmar. Louisa Purea is Miss International Cook Islands 2018, and will represent her country at Miss International 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. Miss Cook Islands 2018 is Reihana Koteka-Wiki, who will represent the Cook Islands at Miss World 2018 in Sanya, China.
All the contestants were beautiful, brave, intelligent, passionate about their culture, inspiring and all are future ambassadors of our country.
Our vibrant Maori culture based on te reo Maori and traditions handed down to us by our tupuna and acknowledging the times we now live in was highlighted last night.
Te reo Maori must not be lost and we must strengthen our peu tupuna, cultural traditions, and our arts, by teaching our young ones to carry these traditions forward for generations to come.
The Miss Cook Islands competition is a national event that embraces this vision in contemporary times, complementing Te Maeva Nui. - JM