Jessica Tyson’s dream came true when she was crowned Miss World New Zealand 2018 on Saturday.
The 25-year-old from Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi says ever since she was a teenager it was her dream to represent Aotearoa at Miss World.
“This is what I’ve been wanting to do for so long. To know that the work has paid off is such a relief,“ she told Te Kāea reporters straight after the final on Saturday night.
Tyson says the competition provides contestants with a platform to raise awareness about charities and issues they’re passionate about.
This year’s project focused on supporting a charity started by former Miss World New Zealand 2017 Annie Evans, Annie’s Lifeline, “a charity which provides scholarships for tertiary students and young people who have been affected by suicide and mental health.”
More than $30,000 was raised by the contestants to go towards the charity through activities like fashion shows, BBQ fundraisers, raffles and more.
One of Tyson’s highlights of the final night was when her work colleague, affectionately known as Aunty Mere, stood up to acknowledge the victory by performing a karanga from the audience that made the whole room fall silent.
Tyson says when she heard Aunty Mere perform the karanga, her eyes started to tear up.
“It was such a beautiful moment and it was so special to see that our Māori culture was being embraced at the event," says Tyson.
She says the pageant not only provides opportunities for self-development but also offers a platform to be a role model for other wahine Māori and rangatahi.
"They are beautiful, they have so much talent behind them, so much potential. I want to see more Māori beauty queens up on that stage please,” she told Kawe Kōrero reporters.
“What we have to offer on an international scale is so much. We have a beautiful culture”.