High hopes for Māori Miss Earth New Zealand

By Jessica Tyson
Photo by photographer Andrew Bignall. Source: Facebook

Miss Earth New Zealand Tashan Kapene has arrived in the Philippines to represent Aotearoa at Miss Earth, one of the world’s largest pageants with a focus on promoting environmental awareness.

The 19-year-old from Mount Maunganui is one of 80 contestants from around the world competing, and is the first Miss Earth New Zealand representative of Māori descent in recent history, says Miss Earth New Zealand national director Namphon Bennett.

Tashan says she is excited to represent Aotearoa on the international stage.

“Not only to experience a lifetime opportunity but to voice what I advocate for because what I stand for is what I stand on, Mother Earth,” Tashan wrote in a post on Facebook.

Preparation

Bennett says Tashan has had an "intense prep" leading up to the competition and has undergone catwalk training, public speaking training and has been working with a personal trainer in the gym.

With singing as her talent, Tashan has also received vocal performance training.

Throughout the year, she has travelled locally to schools and community groups to promote conservation and environmental awareness.

Tashan has also proved to be a favourite for pageant enthusiasts around the world, including Missosolgy, the leading beauty pageant website which covers and analyses beauty pageants.

Missosology recently placed Tashan in their top 10 in the competition.

“Tashan has an international appeal which has resulted in a large global following. Many enquiries have been made about her ethnic background," says Bennett.

Bennett says it has been important to them to highlight Māori culture and the use of  Māori natural resources as part of Tashan's preparation.

“We have had both local and international designers involved in assisting with her wardrobe. Nicole Schmidt from Project Runway NZ has done her Kowhai Flora outfit for the grand finale, Douglas White has created a contemporary kakahu piece for her National Costume”.

Tashan’s custom made evening gown has been supplied by Olivia Dress Studios in Hua Hin, Thailand.

The winner of Miss Earth will serve as the ambassador to environmental protection campaigns worldwide, potentially alongside the United Nationals.

The final will be held on October 26 at the Jesse M. Robredo Coliseum in Naga, Philippines.

Miss Earth New Zealand 2020 is open for applications, with the final scheduled for March 7, 2020.