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14 January 2021

Miss Oceania returns home to her island – and her grandma

Saturday 25 January 2020 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Outer Islands


Miss Oceania returns home to her island – and her grandma
The men of Nukuroa prepare to lift their Miss World on a pa'ata to carry her through the town. 20012441

Miss World gave Tajiya Sahay a platform to make a difference; Mitiaro lifted her even higher on a pa’ata!

Miss World Oceania Miss Cook Islands Tajiy Sahay was overwhelmed at the turou she received from her home island of Mitiaro.

Sahay was carried on a paata to the island’s community hall.

“It was unbelievable how much effort and thought was put into this, it’s so heart-warming,” she said.

She was welcomed by Ariki Vaine o Teakatauira Mii O'Brien and – perhaps most important of all – her own elderly grandmother, Tamanu Scott.

“I'm still trying to take it all in,” the 26-year-old said afterwards.

“The turou, being carried on the pa’ata was emotional, I'm feeling such joy, praise and love.

“Thank you Nukuroa and all those who have contributed to my journey."

Nukuroa is the original name of Mitiaro, where it is an enormous honour to be carried shoulder-high for one’s welcome.

In honour of her hosts, Sahay, a fitness instructor and youth worker, bravely bit the ear of a pig, and feasted on island delicacies.

Lively songs from the mamas echoed through the hall.

Tajiya Sahay represented Cook Islands at Miss World in Britain last month, where she made the top six (unprecedented for a contestant from here) and was named Miss Oceania.

At the grand finale as a vast arena in London, she said her only fear was falling over in her high heels!

On winning Miss Cook Islands in October, she revealed to Cook Islands News her brave journey from a shy, “borderline obese” teenager on the brink of severe heart problems, to an inspirational trainer who is working with youth to help them to fitness and healthy diets.

She said she was honoured to have been given the platform, and hoped to do her best to make every Cook Islander proud.

“It’s not easy for a little Island locked away in the South Pacific to be able to accomplish something as big as preparing for Miss World, but we did it. With the help of our generous community and encouragement of the association we did it.”