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April 29, 2011

Miss Universe New Zealand 2011, day six: parading at Johnsonville; more judges arrive

Jack Yan/15.48

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Miss Universe New Zealand 2011
Miss Universe New Zealand 2011
Charlotte Webb

Top Talia Bennett (Miss North Harbour) and Isabelle Pearson (Miss Great South Vets) with the children at Johnsonville Mall. Above Danelle Kaukau (Miss Horowhenua). Below Isabelle Pearson with a young fan.

Miss Universe New Zealand 2011
Charlotte Webb

Time has flown this week for the Miss Universe New Zealand 2011 contestants. In their last weekday outing, they went to the Johnsonville Shopping Centre on Friday afternoon, and got plenty of attention from youngsters there during their school holiday.
   Kids’ entertainment had just finished ten minutes before 12 of the 13 contestants—Miss Hutt Valley Ashley Bradley had a longer-than-expected hair appointment—began introducing themselves and parading.
   On the prompting of pageant director Val Lott, the little girls in the audience were asked if they wanted to go up to be seen with the dozen, which gave me a chance to see how they interacted with some of Wellington’s youngest citizens. (It was a good opportunity to compare how they interacted with the elderly at Kilmarnock Heights Home earlier in the week.)
   Afterwards, Georgia Easter (Miss Christchurch), Cassie Matthews (Miss Auckland), Lauren Mann (Miss The Steps Dental Care) and Courtney Ramsdale (Miss Howick) accompanied me in the BMW X3 to Jeff Gray BMW, where they were photographed with the new Z4 sports car for a publicity shot.
Miss Universe New Zealand 2011   My fellow judges Evana Patterson (left) and Carl Manderson arrived late afternoon and got the chance to meet all 13 contestants at the Museum Hotel and at Mishmosh, where everyone dined this evening. Former Miss Universe New Zealand runner-up Danijela Unkovich, Miss Wanganui 2008 Michelle Kleinsmith, and co-MC and former Miss Universe New Zealand finalist Zeisha Frémaux also arrived.
   There is one more social event: dinner at Soi at Greta Pt on Saturday night, one of the most scenic restaurants I know in the Wellington city area. The weekend will be occupied with rehearsals, which should give Evana, Carl and fourth judge Dina Janse van Rensburg a chance to see how the contestants are. Saturday is also a huge day as we head into our interview sessions, considered one of the toughest parts of the competition.
   I asked Michelle Kleinsmith what advice she had for those nervously waiting outside “the boardroom”. She said that listening to music on an Ipod might not be a bad idea.
   As it is an important day, we judges will need to be on top form, too. As it’s been very difficult this year with the best prepared group ever, the interviews have now become that much more important.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Miss Universe New Zealand 2011
Miss Universe New Zealand 2011
Miss Universe New Zealand 2011

Above, from top Contestants at Bella Bloom at Johnsonville Shopping Centre, with Courtney Ramsdale (Miss Howick), Jasmine Robertson (Miss Manawatu), Priyani Puketapu (Miss Wellington) and Samantha Papp (Miss Clinic 42) in the front row. Georgia Easter (Miss Christchurch), Cassie Matthews (Miss Auckland), Courtney Ramsdale (Miss Howick) and Lauren Mann (Miss The Steps Dental Care) pose with the BMW Z4. Jeff Gray BMW dealer principal Jason Broome talks to Cassie Matthews, Lauren Mann, Georgia Easter and Courtney Ramsdale.

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  • Wrong Number

    I’m only continuing to dog you as you are an aspiring public figure who employs social media and it seemed suspect that you were ignoring that with the contestants. Did you assuage my concerns about our potential ‘ambassadors’ and their use of social media? I like what you said and transparency would be preferable, but understandably not permitted by the powers that be. I guess we’ll see what happens and how well your due diligence was done (remember, the boy in Bolivia). Does your list of criteria above make me think you’re thorough? Sure, but the contestants reactions probably fall under the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Can you really see genuine motives when the person is KNOWINGLY being observed? And that’s where this world of the internet has stepped in and the public judges what people say on social media outlets.

    Your blog posting was on integrity of your judgement versus what the rest of us sees and I was just pointing out the rest of us can see a lot. Dismiss the catty comments about a person’s looks in your judgement, that’s fine, but don’t dismiss what the girls you are judging say on social media sites and don’t take for granted that some bloggers might have opinions based on those. Just because a person cannot form erudite sentences does exclude the idea from being true. It might exclude them from running for mayor or Miss NZ :)

    But, I DON’T believe it matters if a blog is attached to a publication or not in terms of it’s integrity. If you follow the debate on media, especially during the past American Presidential election, you’ll note that blogs can be a double edged sword. Journalists must follow ethical guidelines but blogs don’t have to, even if they are associated with the New York Times or the Daily Telegraph. Bloggers can report on anything which CAN be a gateway for journalists to respond to topics that they “shouldn’t”. And that’s how my comment started – are you ignoring things that those bloggers found that could really make us look bad. You say no, so ok. Even with the ethical controversy, I like blogs – I want a society to be able to express freely, which means taking the good and the bad. Twitter played a huge part in the Egyption freedom moment and whatever pageant blog you read probably is the worst about free speech.

    Truthfully I’m not a pageant girl; my beauty aspirations are more Natalie Portman than Julianna Hough. However good luck with your judging and don’t forget we’ll be watching how you behave as well.

  • http://jackyan.com Jack Yan

    As I said on our other thread, one of the judges has been very thorough on the social media ‘due diligence’. Interestingly, it emerged that they were surprised that 5,000-odd words have been written about them. So much emphasis was placed on tonight (the interview) that, other than the dance routines and the performance aspect, it wasn’t completely appreciated that what seemed to be relaxed conversation was still an exercise in observation.
       I’m not saying I’m perfect but, then, I wasn’t born yesterday. The fashion world alone attracts its share of pretence and wannabes, and I learned the hard way what signs they give off. (Politics has nothing on it.) Maybe in the past there has been the odd one who slipped through the radar into the final top places. Let’s say we’ve wised up and all of us have means of spotting the actors.
       I’m simply a pageant judge and magazine publisher as far as this site is concerned. I was far more in the public eye eight years ago than I am today, or, for that matter, last year.
       On your other point, it depends on the blog. I like to think I hold us to the same standards on CMS-produced material as I do to anything we commit to print. To us, WordPress exists as a matter of convenience, not as a medium for lowering standards. For one, I can’t afford the time to deal with a libel lawsuit, and the laws of libel apply as much online as they do in print. While others do their thing, we don’t follow—and we traditionally do not follow. Let the others spread falsehoods on their blogs—it’s not the way I see the medium.
       As you are not from this world—and, for that matter, neither am I—some pageant blogs thrive on false accusations from disgruntled unplaced contestants. Our discussion on what is a blog is at cross purposes and, to allay your concerns again, the matter is covered. Let your Bolivian lad do his search.
       I’ve done judging here for five years and, believe me, if there were any impropriety or misconduct I would not be asked back. You’d have seen some accusation against me on some blog somewhere, credible or otherwise.
       I must have done something right to avoid the worst of the ’net’s lashings in a world that can be catty. Hopefully not this year. I suppose we will know by May 2 by the number of nasty comments that might come.
       Incidentally, in the interests of free speech, your comments have always been set (after your first) to auto-approve here, assuming you used the same details. Unfortunately, we’re using Cloudflare, which means this site is now being routed through different servers and IP addresses. The software isn’t picking up the fact it’s the same writer because of the different IPs and, given the amount of spam, I’m leaving Akismet on.

  • Interested

    Jack seems to me your doing your finest as are the Other judges.
    Maybe this person needs to get of her high horse and tell us who her favorite is.

  • http://jackyan.com Jack Yan

    Thank you for your support.

  • wrong number

    Interested – you’re a psychology major? Always someone out there thinking they know why people do things. Tut tut. You know what they say about “assume”. Let me try one – were the words too big for you and it made you feel inadequite? Or is it that I don’t use American spelling and random capitals in my sentences? Just kidding. You’re being slightly cruel just like the posts Jack was talking about in his blogs. I think and maybe Jack would agree, that it is important to question how people do things. Maybe a bit OTT for a pageant judge, but not in someone I want to see as mayor.

    I do support Jack more than he knows – I am thoroughly impressed by his background. I only know about this pageant because of him. But I’m not a pageant fan plus Donald Trump is proving to be crazy, so I wouldn’t send anyone near him. I think that is just cruel and unusual punishment.

    Jack: I wanted to vote for you, I’m half Chinese and a student and sometimes find it difficult being of a minority so it would have been nice to have a public figure who I could sympathise with. But then I found comments you made about an article about Ria Van Dyke. And it made me uncomfortable as it did not present grace under pressure. I’m poking you because I want to see how thorough and objective you can be about something that you are passionate about. It was a personal test that of which I’m sure you’re not seeking my affirmation, but one I needed. I’m happier this time around. I only chose this topic as it was easy – I almost wrote about if having a PhD was an indicator that really mattered. But this was more fun.

    Sorry I’ve been away – I had a paper due interestingly on privacy laws.

    I am from this world. I’m using proxy servers from the US , Canada and UK. I can’t remember, did you get Texas, Vancouver and London? Or maybe California, Toronto and Watford? No I’m not putting in true credentials because I figured you would be tracking people. Switching to Cloudsphere makes sense now when I didn’t see my posting. I chose to have a certain degree of anonymity because a) I need to trust your publication first before I feel at ease using any personal information and b) I’m not aiming for being a public figure. Not on this topic.

    Anyway, seems on the blog that started it all, the only blog I know, you’ve made a controversial choice, which is splendid. Really they all look pretty. Most of the comments are of superficial, but it seems that it’s not a lad from Bolivia but from Wellington. He’s made a comment about rumours about your winner. I think he’s just bitter about his friend losing.

    Good luck Jack, thanks for not ignoring me and I hope to see you on the ballot again.

    Hey Interested – who was your favourite? So far, I like this one ;-)

  • http://jackyan.com Jack Yan

    WN, I don’t recall what I said about Ria van Dyke—she received a lot of press, and I’m sure there could be ambiguity.
       I will attack the press if they have not done their jobs properly, or base their words on half-truths and rumour. That’s come from being let down by the media time and time again—and I’d rather be a straight-shooter than graceful if it means highlighting repeated misbehaviours by certain parties. As you are half-Chinese, I am sure that you will be in a good position to see prejudice when it rears its head. I’d also prefer to interact (as you have seen) than let something slide, regardless of how I’m perceived afterwards.
       To say I am ‘passionate’ about pageants is perhaps inaccurate, however. I have been asked to do a task, and I don’t take the request lightly, especially if I am signing my name on a judges’ certificate. Each time we refine the process a little more, and, hopefully, we have come closer to sending a delegate who represents this country.
       One year, one girl was identified by someone “in the know” as ‘what they look for overseas’, and pointed to her body shape. I said in response that that didn’t matter: we had to send a delegate we were proud of, and never mind those shallow criteria.
       ‘This world’, of course, means the beauty pageant world. I might be immersed in it for a week a year, but I prefer to think I am bringing an outsider’s eye to it all.
       You won’t need to use proxies because, thanks to Cloudflare, I can only see Cloudflare’s IPs. Although if you’d like to stick to a single address (and use whatever proxies you like), we might be able to see if your next comment can get automatic approval. A couple have come through with the same (Cloudflare) IP but the email address differs.
       I didn’t have a favourite going in, though Nancy Yan’s (no relation—she has a different surname in Chinese) credentials were impressive (as were Nafessa Moses’s last year). Certain contestants had lovely publicity photographs, but as there are no standards for them, then it seems unwise to base a decision on them.
       I know we had a thorough and above-board process, and Priyani was in the top three for all five judges. If she was controversial, then that’s the opinion of certain people who are likely relying on a cursory knowledge. Every winner we’ve seen has had unsavoury rumours surround them post-pageant, most of them baseless—no, let me rephrase that—based on sour grapes (like the chap from Wellington).


 

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