Auckland-based Ria van Dyke, sponsored by Wellington company Econo-Heat, has taken the Miss Universe New Zealand title for 2010 in front of a packed audience in the capital’s Duxton Hotel on Saturday.
Miss East Auckland, Danijela Unkovich, is runner-up, while Miss Auckland, Caren Freeman, is second runner-up.
Miss van Dyke, 21, holds a BA (Hons.) with distinction in psychology and sociology. She will now represent New Zealand at Miss Universe in Las Vegas, Nevada, on August 23.
After celebrating, Miss van Dyke returns to Auckland to complete two essays due Monday for her master’s degree.
Val Lott, director of the Miss Universe New Zealand pageant, says, ‘I am delighted with the decision, and to understand it was unanimous makes me even happier.’
Ms Lott says she was very impressed with the reception and support Wellingtonians have given to the pageant.
Jack Yan, publisher of Lucire, headed the judging panel. ‘Ria did extremely well and was consistent from the swimwear section on Friday night, through a gruelling interview at the Museum Hotel, to tonight’s ﬁnal at the Duxton,’ he says.
He says that Miss van Dyke speaks from the heart and has the level of international experience that makes her ideal for Miss Universe New Zealand 2010.
He served on the panel with stylist Samantha Hannah, model scout Evana Patterson, international judge Dina Janse van Rensburg, and Salute Hair director Carl Manderson.
The judges said that the calibre was very high this year, with very ﬂuent and well spoken contestants.
One contestant, Miss Radio Tarana, Nafeesa Moses, already holds a master’s degree, and both Miss van Dyke and Miss Wellington, Regan Hillyer, are studying toward theirs.
Rounding out the top six—the judges said they could not select only ﬁve this year—were Candace Trewhitt, Miss Horowhenua–Kapiti; Isabelle Pearson, Miss Tuscany Road Putaruru; and Zeisha Frémaux, Miss Moontide.
The show was MCed by TVNZ’s Matt McLean and Miss Universe New Zealand 2008 Samantha Powell.
Katie Taylor, Miss Universe New Zealand 2009, delivered a touching speech on her experiences since her own crowning last April, which included meeting Sir Richard Branson, the Black-Eyed Peas, and Beyoncé Knowles. Violinist Marvin Smith and soloist Tyra Wilson performed numbers in musical sections held during the show.
Further images are available for purchase from the ofﬁcial photographer, Jin Cowan, at www.jincowan.co.nz.