Above At Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand today: Jennifer Lambly (Miss Auckland), Alex Beaumont (Miss Nature Coast, formerly Miss Kapitiâ€“Horowhenua), Monique Cooley (Miss Otago), Avianca BĂ¶hm (Miss Howick), Lauren Mann (Miss Wellington), Courtney Ramsdale (Miss Celsius), and Talia Bennett (Miss North Harbour, sponsored by Tuscany Road). Te Papa’s Bridget MacDonald, Lucire publisher Jack Yan, and choreographer Sarah Melville-Smith are in the background.
The third full day of events for Miss New Zealand 2012â€”and I do mean full, since it began with morning rehearsals and concluded with a tasteful and elegant evening gown show for Shika Braddock Couture in the presence of HE the Thai Ambassadorâ€”was punctuated with a visit from comedian and actor Billy Connolly, and an informative visit to Te Papa.
Connolly is, like so many famous celebrities, humble and gentle, quite unlike the stage persona most see. I’m not sure whether he was impressed that I told him I liked him in one of the last Columbo episodes, but I somehow doubt that that preyed on his mind today.
A visit to Te Papa, thanks to Bridget MacDonald, Hamish Timmons, and our guide Phil, was very different from the previous year’s, giving even the returning contestants new insights into our country’s history and nature.
The dinner tonight was served in-house due to the evening fashion show taking place at 8 p.m. Mr Chung of Noodle Canteenâ€”he owns both the Courtenay Place and Porirua franchisesâ€”served up a meal that was not available on the menu to regular buyers, and the MSG-free feast delighted contestants, even if it was relatively chocolate-free compared to yesterday’s birthday festivities.
The evening ended on a high, live-streamed by Catalyst90 on the official Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook page. Shika Braddock Couture’s evening gown show at the Museum Art Hotel was made even more splendid with live music, while Braddock had the opportunity to showcase another side of her design talents after making her name in bridal wear. I sat with the mother of Alex Beaumont, Miss Nature Coast, who rightly delighted at the splendid make-up job done by Suzanne Purser and her team from Clinique, and the hair by Carl Manderson of Salute Hair & Day Spa in Lower Hutt.
I was also joined earlier today by May Davis, a former runner-up in Miss South Africa, and someone experienced in the international pageant scene. Unlike my European focus, May’s recent experience has been Stateside, covering pageants there, and it was wonderful welcoming her back to the fold after a four-year absence. It didn’t take her long to get up to speed or to dispense useful advice from her years working in the pageant world.
Each day has seen real growth in confidence, and a marked decline in nerves, while friendships continue to be forged. On Thursday, Catalyst90 will live-stream an event at Farmers Lambton Quay from 1 p.m. NZST on Facebook, before the contestants head to the Upper Hutt Cosmopolitan Club for a fashion show there, styled by our own fashion editor, Sopheak Seng, with Noa Noa and other labels represented by Fashion Marketing Ltd. Danijela Unkovich, runner-up to Miss Universe New Zealand 2010, joins us on the judging panel beginning with the evening event.â€”Jack Yan, Publisher
Top Ivy, Kilmarnock Heights Home’s oldest resident at 105, on the left, especially attends the visits from the Miss Universe New Zealand contestants each year. Above Avianca BĂ¶hm, Miss Howick, exchanges knitting tips with a resident.
The second full day of Miss Universe New Zealand was probably the busiest of the week, other than the final night on the 3rd. The contestants had their first official engagement with Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon and Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer, both of whom had wise words to give to the ten ladies in Wellington this week.
The Deputy Mayor has his choice again for 2012, but good manners prevent me from revealing her name.
This was followed by a visit to the office of the Hon Maurice Williamson MP in the executive wing of the Parliament Buildings. Williamson was chosen by pageant director Val Lott as her local MP. In an event closely mirroring those of 2010, the Minister introduced a point of order in the House to acknowledge the contestants in the galleryâ€”though Speaker of the House Dr the Rt Hon Lockwood Smith was not too sure whether it was a valid one. However, he did acknowledge Miss Wellington Lauren Mann, whom he knows through surf life-saving.
Apart from the brief exchange, Question Time followed the usual agenda, kicking off with Dorothy Dix questions from the Hon Nick Smith MP, while, as expected, all 10 respected the dignity of the proceeding as in the 2010 visit. In the interests of political fairness, the contestants stayed not just for the easy questions from the government, but for some from the Labour MPs and two questions from the Greens’ Dr Russel Norman MP.
The visit to the Kilmarnock Heights Home followed, visiting Ivy, the Home’s oldest resident at 105, for the third consecutive time. Second-oldest, an Irish New Zealander named Archie, recited poetry to Miss Auckland Jennifer Lambly, who celebrated her 22nd birthday today, while a former New Zealand Ballet pianist, Merle, also a resident, actually wound up entertaining the contestants on the ivories.
Suzanne Purser from Clinique and former Lucire fashion editor Samantha Hannah gave beauty and styling tips respectively in the evening, after celebrating Miss Lambly’s birthday.
Everyone is settling in to the week and friendships are being forged. Three of the six main judges have met the contestants now, as has one guest judge, but our deliberations are yet to begin. May Davis, the former Miss South Africa runner-up who joins me on the judging panel again, arrives tomorrow, and I will be interested to hear what she says.
Most years, a contestant wins because she has one quality over and above her rivals. After two days, we usually have not identified this yet. This year is no exception. So far, all I can see is a group that is steadily gaining confidence, as well as an understanding of how politics (both in the governmental and interpersonal senses) works. They have made strides in their public speaking skills, even between the Council and rest home visits after feedback in the interim. Each is bringing a unique set of qualities to the plate, but in whom the X factor lies is anyone’s guess.
Meanwhile, an informal online poll has been put on to the official Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook page by social media agency Catalyst90.â€”Jack Yan, Publisher
Day one of the Miss Universe New Zealand 2012 pageant has been completed. The 10 contestants from around the country have had their fittings with both Louise Stichbury for a fashion show later this week, and Shika Braddock, for an eveningwear show on the 30th.
They also had a relaxing dinner with a view overlooking Wellington City at a private residence, before we subjected them to a mock interview session in preparation for the real thing on Friday. Today, they are spending the day rehearsing, and will venture to a restaurant for a meal this evening.
As usual, the profile photographs do them little justice. After meeting them in person, any prejudices one might have had based on nicely shot photographs are out the window, something that tends to happen every year. It’s also very difficult to say after a single day how things are shaping up.
Just going on basic statistics, there is a 40 per cent chance the next Miss New Zealand will not be locally born, reflecting the changing make-up of our country. Then again, three of seven on the judging panel are also Kiwis who were born outside New Zealand.
There’s little else to tell at this point. I’ve had very brief conversations with each contestant, and read their biographies. However, tomorrow, with the official functions starting with a lunch with Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon (Mayor Celia Wade-Brown is presently in China) it will be interesting to see who shapes up in the ambassadorial stakes. It’s not a widely known fact that Councillor McKinnon picked the winner, Priyani Puketapu, last year after this luncheon, and his instincts may prove on target again.â€”Jack Yan, Publisher
Tickets to the final on Sunday night may be reserved at this page.
Photographed by Andrew Bignall
Miss North Harbour, sponsored by Tuscany Road, Talia Bennett
Talia is 23, 5 ft 8 in. She completed her Bachelor of Property and is a qualified commercial property valuer. Her interests include yoga, health, nutrition, fashion and tennis. Taliaâ€™s ambition is to climb the corporate ladder pursuing a career in property development.
Miss Auckland, Jennifer Lambly
Jennifer is 22, 5 ft 10 in. She is in her second year of a social science degree. Her interests include fashion, music, fitness and travel. Jennifer has been involved in aid work in South America, enjoying the experience. Her ambition is to continue this involvement, combined with working for troubled youth within New Zealand.
Miss Celsius, Courtney Ramsdale
Courtney is 20, 5 ft 10 in. She is in her final year of a bachelor of communications degree. Her interests include dancing, media, music, fashion and writing. Courtney aspires to having a career within television as a news reporter, or in production.
Photographed by Andrew Bignall
Miss Howick, Avianca BĂ¶hm
Avianca is 22, 5 ft 10 in. She recently graduated with a fashion degree. Avianca currently works as a brand ambassador, and is a part-time model. Her interests include fashion design, sports, and reading. Her ambition is to become a qualified chartered accountant.
Miss Manawatu, Miriam SchrĂ¶ter
Miriam is 20, 5 ft 6 in. She is in her second year of a Bachelor of Communications degree at Massey University. In the immediate future she plans to do a semester of study in America. Miriam also works part-time in fashion. Her interests include fitness, photography, art and travel. Her ambition is to have a people-focused career and to travel the world, exploring different countries and cultures.
Miss Nature Coast, Alex Beaumont
Alex is 20, 5 ft 6 in and a life insurance salesâ€™ consultant. Her interests include fashion, music, playing piano, and fishing. Alexâ€™s ambition is to gain a qualification as a dispensary technician. She also aspires to travel the world.
Miss Hutt Valley, Rachel Millns
Rachel is 21, 5 ft 11 in, and a beauty therapist. Rachelâ€™s interests include biology, photography, horse-riding, and swimming. She has also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to model for charity fashion parades. She has a true passion for animals. Her ambitions are to own her own beauty therapy salon, and to travel the world.
Miss Wellington, Lauren Mann
Lauren is 23, 5 ft 11 in, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Marketing and International Business. She is also a part-time model and recently travelled with the World of Wearable Art to Hong Kong. Lauren has a passion for travelling and exploring new places. She also enjoys writing and hopes her first piece, a childrenâ€™s book, will be published in the near future.
Miss Otago, Monique Cooley
Monique is 22, 5 ft 10 in. She is a qualified beauty therapist and is passionate about educating others in advanced skin care techniques. Her interests include painting, fashion, skiing, fitness and nutrition. Monique also aspires to speak fluent Japanese, a subject she enjoyed at junior school. Her ambition is to study psychology and to become a Victoriaâ€™s Secret model.
Top Madalina Ghenea wearing Montblanc Riviera necklace and bracelet and PGM Petales de roses earrings. Above Beatrice Rosen wearing Montblanc PGM Petales de roses earrings and bracelet.
At the press conference for The Paperboy at the Cannes Film Festival, star Nicole Kidman says she had to do her own make-up and hair. Despite the presence of Zac Efron and Matthew McConaughey, the film had a low budget. ‘I actually went in to my bathroom â€¦ and I got out the fake tan, put on lashes that were old, and then I got out a hairpiece thing and it was platinum, and I threw it all on and I took a photo, and I texted it to Lee, in different, provocative positions, and that was how it started to come together,’ said Kidman.
Meanwhile, courtesy of Montblanc, Madalina Ghenea, Julie Gayet, Beatrice Rosen, Alysson Paradis, Cecile Togni, and Inna Modja have been snapped at the Festival de Cannes.
In remaining entertainment news, singerâ€“songwriter Olly Murs says he would like to see Cheryl Cole return as the fourth X Factor judge.
The latest celebrities to be snapped at the Festival de Cannes at the AmFAR Cinema Against Aids annual ball at the HĂ´tel du Cap included Irina Shayk, Isabeli Fontana, Dite Anata, Hanaa ben Abdelssem, Ana Beatriz Barros, Elsa Zylberstein, Michelle Rodriguez, and Kelly Rutherford, whose photographs here are courtesy of de Grisogonoâ€”happy that their jewellery adorns these ladies.
Janet Jackson was the most talked-about celebrity at the ball, in a shapely, white dress showing off her figure.
Other celebrities present were Aishwarya Rai, Alec Baldwin and Hilaria Thomas, Kylie Minogue, Kim Kardashian, Diane KrĂĽger and Joshua Jackson, Heidi Klum, Gerard Butler, and Tamara and Petra Ecclestone.
Cartier, meanwhile, was not to be outdone, thanks to Nicole Kidman, in Cannes to promote Hemingway & Gellhorn and The Paperboy.