Maori fashion mogul breaks runway stereotype

By Taroi Black

Event director for Miss Rotorua 2018, Kharl Wirepa is on a mission to find the beauty that brings tears to the eyes.  This year women of all forms will feature at the beauty pageant.  

One of the 41 contestants is Renee White who’s 41 years old.

“I’m excited and nervous”, she says.

She’s a local singer from Rotorua who was encouraged by her friends to take part in the annual competition after losing 40kgs. 

Her dress is designed by Wirepa- a black evening garment with sequences.      

“I've never been dolled up.  It's only recently I’ve actually started taking care of myself.”

Miss Rotorua 2018 is more community focussed and contestants start from 15-years-old and are judged by Kiwi celebrities.     

“We haven't announced who all our judges are yet but this year we do have Anne Batley Burton from Housewives and Hannah Tamaki,” he says.

Contestants such as Renee will undertake etiquette training before the event takes place at the Blue Baths, Rotorua, in September.