Miss Samoa NZ 2017 crowned at Fale Samoa in Mangere

Miss Samoa NZ 2017 winner Natalie Leitulagi Toevai, Postgraduate student and Teaching Assistant in Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland, hopes to take advantage of her position to further empower young Pacific women. LAUMATA LAUANO reports.


Crowned at the Fale o Samoa in Mangere Town Centre by reigning Miss Samoa NZ 2016-2017 Naomi Eta Fruean, Natalie was chosen from four finalists on July 8.

Although beating out 23 initial contestants to become a finalist, before taking out the title, Natalie (from the villages of Afega, Vailele and Vaisala) says she was overwhelmed and didn’t expect the win.


“But if I was good enough for the judges, then I have much to fulfil on the big journey ahead,” says Natalie, who thanked everyone who’s helped her so far, along with fellow finalists.


“Thank you to everyone, my beautiful sisters Rowena, Brittany and Kahlia, but most of all thanks to our heavenly father for his guidance throughout this entire journey it’s been amazing.”


Finalists included a youth service assessor 25-year-old Manufa ‘Aifomailagi Rowena Fuao (runner-up) , house surgeon and junior doctor from Wellington 24-year-old Brittany Tasesa Stanley-Wishart (second runner-up) and third runner-up and youngest at 20 years, sales and marketing manager Kahlia Renee Tapsell-Ulae.


When asked what she hopes to achieve in her 12 months as reigning Miss Samoa NZ Natalie’s answer is simple.


“I definitely want to utilise this platform to empower Pacific women, especially our tama’ita’i Samoa (young Samoan women),” she says, adding that it’s a year of her life that she’ll spend in dedication to her community.


The finalists, judged by a panel of judges comprising five strong Pacific women, competed in two categories, talent and stage interview followed by a showcase of their taualuga (Siva Samoa) skill.


Judges included the Chair of the Māngere-Otāhuhu Local Board Lemauga Lydia Sosene, founder and president of dance academy Le Taupou Manaia Tuifa'asisina Korina Seiuli Lee, Miss World Samoa 2015, Miss Pacific Islands 2015, Miss Samoa and Miss Samoa NZ 2015 Latafale Auva’a, renowned fashion designer Paula Chan, and Jackie Loheni of Mena Fashion.


Also in attendance was Mangere MP Aupito Su'a William Sio who addressed the crowd of over 500 saying events like these were great for the community and young Samoans to embrace their heritage and culture.



Miss Samoa NZ Director, Ulalemamae Te'eva Matafai, a former contestant who has volunteered 21 years of her life to the event, says to have celebrated 26 years of the Miss Samoa NZ competition is a great feat and blessing.


“What an honour to have this platform available for our tamaita'i Samoa residing in New Zealand to embrace their culture.


“It's not an easy journey for any contestant, but those who take the step in faith to compete are definitely bold and beautiful,” says Ulalemamae.


“E le mua uma ni va'a [not all vessels win the race], there is obviously one winner so we congratulate our new Miss Samoa NZ 2017 Natalie Leitulagi Toevai for her achievement!”


Ulalemamae says they are now preparing Natalie to compete in the Miss Samoa Teuila competition later this year.


TV1 Samoa filmed and will broadcast the pageant to those in Samoa which will be aired on the 22nd of July.