Whānau Ora Commissioning Chair, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait was crowned Miss Te Arawa at this years Miss Rotorua competition, something she is glad she was involved in.

“I’m glad I didn’t listen to that voice , who kept saying to me ‘you silly person for wanting to get involved in something like that’. But it is a beauty pageant with a difference and women from all backgrounds, all ages and sizes are asked to come together”.

Merepeka said this type of competition recognise the differences in all wahine across every social sector.

“In every community, there are women with diverse backgrounds that can be challenging for them to get out of situations they might find themselves in, and a number of those women were on that pageant journey with me. I got to know women I would not have got ordinarily got to know and in the space of three months we got to share a lot between us. Some of their backgrounds were complex but they wanted to make a difference for their children.I was also the opportunity for all 20 of us to make ourselves beautiful and learn how they can be resilient and be a mana wāhine in their own right. It was very empowering. I am all the better person for the experience.”

The Miss Rotorua Beauty Pageant is an annual charity event to create awareness to social issues in the community- celebrate Maori culture and arts-fundraise for charitable causes and maximise business in the region.