Beauty Queen humbled by second chance to help
The reigning Miss Samoa, Fonoifafo Nancy McFarland-Seumanu, says she is humbled by the chance to continue her reign as Ms. Samoa for a second year as she helps Samoa through a second health crisis.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. McFarland-Seumanu, will be continuing her reign as Miss Samoa New Zealand, Miss Samoa, and Miss Pacific Islands because next year’s contests have been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions on public events and travelling.
Ms. McFarland-Seumanu is from the villages of Salelologa, Sapapalii, Letogo, Aleisa, Avao and South Auckland New Zealand.
She is understood to be the first reigning beauty queen who has held the concurrent titles for two consecutive years.
Ms. McFarland-Seumanu is a registered nurse and has been working on the frontline of the healthcare system, last year on the measles epidemic and this year for COVID-19.
She said she felt a range of emotions to be continuing her reign but primarily humility.
"It is a lot of responsibility and a lot of weight to carry but with everyone's support, I think we should be ok. I will also be holding the titles for Miss Pacific Islands. I hold on to three titles because I also won Miss Samoa New Zealand before coming here. It is a huge responsibility,” she said.
During her first year as Miss Samoa, she was allowed to continue working as a nurse which she said was a blessing.
“The Ministry of Health has welcomed me with open arms from the beginning of my reign until now and we continue to have a working relationship so I give it back to them,” she said.
She stated that the role of Miss Samoa is to be an international Ambassador for Samoa.
“Especially being Miss Pacific Islands [I am also] promoting the Pacific but I guess with COVID-19 it’s made things a bit easier in a sense that I have been able to stay in Samoa as opposed to travelling every month,” she said.
“Because of COVID-19 all my travelling plans have been cancelled. For me it has been a blessing because it means that I get to work on the ground and just be more effective.”
Ms. McFarland-Seumanu had worked as a Public Health Nurse at the Counties Manukau District Health Board in New Zealand and received one year’s leave after being crowned but she is now obliged to return to New Zealand for work.
She has been helping medical personnel to process residents returning to Samoa on repatriation flights from New Zealand.
“I would have liked to see another girl continue here in Samoa especially with me going back to New Zealand to work and that is for employment reasons, my employers in New Zealand held my position for a year so I have to return to honour that,” she said.
“I will be going [back to New Zealand in] early September. So that will mark a year since living in Samoa and I will be continuing the second half of my year [as Miss Samoa] from New Zealand.”
Samoa is one of a dozen countries in the world that has not been affected by COVID-19.
“We are still battling COVID-19 as we speak and we still have passengers that are returning from New Zealand,” she said.
“So long as we have those flights we are still at risk contracting the virus but fortunately through the training and working alongside our doctors and our leaders I have been able to learn a lot.
"Especially because in New Zealand we have low immunisation rates amongst the Pacific islanders so I really think this platform and this title that I hold, the work that I have been doing here will definitely continue when I am in New Zealand.”
Ms. McFarland-Seumanu said social media had been crucial to her efforts during her reign.
“I try to keep everyone updated on everything I am doing. It is something that I have done from the beginning and that's allowed my support to just kind of grow and I have that over the last few months I have seen an increase in following on all social media platforms,” she said.
“I must say that with that comes a great responsibility because I am always mindful of the audience.
“As Miss Samoa, you are in the eyes of the public so everything you do can be up for scrutiny and criticism but in my role, I haven’t experienced anything like that before.”