“It’s the universal responsibility of each and every Pacific Islander to play a crucial role in preserving our unique cultures by being part of the solution, and it starts from within families and communities with parents, elders and church leaders in the forefront to educate and remind the young about their cultural identity, and likewise on the national and regional level” – Papali’i Alexandra Iakopo
Miss Samoa Papali’i Alexandra Iakopo and her fellow contestants are only hours away from finding out who will be crowned the new Miss Pacific Islands.
The finale of the Pageant is set to kick off in Fiji tonight.
Prior to that, the contestants continue to prove that the annual event is not just a beauty contest, but a testament to the pivotal role played by Pacific women within their respective communities.
The ladies delivered in-depth presentations on their selected interview topics on the issues of gender equality, education, tourism, politics, culture, climate change, technology, environment and health.
The interview presentation is one of the judged events with results to be tallied with the stage interview and contribute immensely to the overall winner of the interview category.
Presentations were carried out before the Pageant’s five main panel of judges, members of the participating countries, supporters and the public.
Each contestant was give five minutes to present and later followed up with three questions from the judges.
In order of appearance, Miss Nauru, Tansy Angelique Itsimaera, 20 years, took the lead and spoke about Gender Equality.
“Everyone should have equal access to resources and opportunities including economic participation and decision making,” said Miss Nauru.
“Gender Equality should be promoted highly in all countries including my home with equal job opportunities, equal agreements in opinions and discussions, and equal participation in parliament.”
Miss Solomon Islands, Emily Chan, 18 years, spoke about education as a catalyst to becoming a balanced young Pacific Island woman.
“As a young Solomon Islands woman, my first education was at home and church and it was ingrained in me early on to be proud of my heritage and be respectful to others.” She said. “I learnt values and it was a good education.”
She elaborated on formal and informal education, how it empowers women for development, and the importance it is for mothers who mould the young. “I was taught fortitude, courage, compassion and humility, effort, and respect.
Miss Papua New Guinea, Niwali Twain, 23 years, discussed what type of tourism the Pacific region should focus on. She spoke about niche markets such as natural, wellness, beauty, health, culture and sports. “Ecotourism promotes preservation of the natural environment and it is important to the Pacific because of its long term sustainable development, low carbon footprints, and has positive impact on local economies.”
“Cultural tourism preserves our traditions, as well as wellness tourism where all in the region have natural wellness ingredients readily available everyone.”
Miss Rapa Nui, Tiare Pakarati, 19 years, was given the topic of politics, and began with the history of politics within the region where it has influenced the growth of civilization, including her country. “Traditionally, Rapa-Nui had chiefs and sub-chiefs to head their tribes and it was always the physically strong that ruled.”
“Rapanui is not self-governed, as it is a special territory of Chile with a provincial Governor appointed by the President of Chile,” she added. “I admire other Pacific Islands and their ability to govern their affairs and I hope one day we will be able to do the same.”
Miss Samoa, Alexandra Iakopo, 23 years, took pride in her topic of culture, and spoke about the challenges and threats to the survival of Pacific Island culture with one main issue of globalization, and the need to preserve culture for future generations. “Western influences and overseas values coupled by the new age of technology and ideas are providing options which are slowly but surely eroding our cultures.” Said Miss Samoa.
“It’s the universal responsibility of each and every Pacific Islander to play a crucial role in preserving our unique cultures by being part of the solution, and it starts from within families and communities with parents, elders and church leaders in the forefront to educate and remind the young about their cultural identity, and likewise on the national and regional level.”
Miss Cook Islands, Enerstina Maro, 22 years, had the privilege to speak about the Pageant theme, climate change action to sustain our Islands. “I believe our
Pacific Island nations can do more to address the issues of climate change affecting our Islands.”
“Awareness and educating our people is the key, and as people of the Pacific, we should all rise up together and provide mitigating actions to cope with the effects of climate change because climate change is real.”
Miss Tonga, Ophelia Kava, 23 years, talked about technology, and its powerful influence in our daily lives. “Technology plays an important role in fulfilling human daily needs due to its benefits to making lives easier.”
“With all good things technology provides us with such as improving communication, transportation, assisting those with disabilities, health benefits through improved medical services, educational empowerment and so forth, there are also negative effects, and we should all be mindful of them.”
Miss Fiji, Hally Qaqa, 24 years, reminded everyone about our environment. “Our environment is getting worse day by day because of the manmade technological advancement in the modern era,” said Miss Fiji. “Though scientific inventions of man have made human life more comfortable, they have caused danger for the sustainability of our environment.”
“Our Prime Minister of Fiji has stated that as President of Conferences of the Parties - COP23, he has made a solemn obligation to move the international community to decisive action to address the underlying causes of global climate change, as it is a vehicle to achieve more and seize the opportunities that each conference gives us to review the latest science on climate change.”
Miss American Samoa, Matauaina To’omalatai, 24 years, spoke about health. “According to the World Health Organization, Non-communicable diseases is a crisis in the Pacific,” said Miss American Samoa. “Let us put the world, the region and the country to the side but focus on yourself because it is a crisis for the ones you love.”
She further spoke about some specific studies that reflect the health choices people make, and the damaging consequences that come with them. “If we want to battle the rapid gains we must change our way of life by exercising, have a balanced diet and continue to live healthy.”
The judges asked questions based on the presented topics by the contestants to gage more of their knowledge on the discussed issues. The Pageant winner was named last night.