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Dear Pageant Girl,

Boy oh boy do we love a victory.

You may recall that last September I had the pleasure of attending the Miss Samoa pageant in Samoa.

That night a twenty year old from New Zealand won the hearts of the local judges and was crowned Miss Samoa 2012.

Janine immediately after her crowning and just before her SivaPhoto courtesy of Miss Samoa and Samoa Tourism Authority

Janine immediately after her crowning and just before her Siva
Photo courtesy of Miss Samoa and Samoa Tourism Authority

Born in New Zealand of Samoan parents, this was the first time Janine Tuivaiti had visited the homeland of her ancestors.  Invited by her sponsor to compete for the Miss Samoa pageant, Janine thought it would be a fun opportunity to visit her parents’ homeland and meet new people.

Little did she know that a decision motivated by fun would change her life forever.

I had met up with Janine a couple more times since, where we used her as a featured personality for the Weekend Sunrise live broadcast in Samoa in November.


The controversial cultural costumePhoto courtesy of Miss Samoa and Samoa Tourism Authority

The controversial cultural costume
Photo courtesy of Miss Samoa and Samoa Tourism Authority

Who could forget the classic scene with James Tobin on a canoe off the waters of Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa!

Speaking to team Samoa I found out that Janine needed a bit of help with interview and speaking on stage so Dear Pageant Girl offered to lend a helping hand.

DPG spent a couple of days with Janine coaching her on interview and stage etiquette as well as some media training.  As a natural born performer Janine was a fast learner and approached the lessons like she was learning a new song.

Having beauty, talent and grace we knew that interview would be her biggest challenge so we wished her well as she headed off to American Samoa a couple of days later.

We tuned into the live broadcast at the crucial point – interview.  Miss Samoa was called last and was asked a casual question on the difference between American Samoa and Samoa which she answered beautifully.

Her final question was a bit of a doozy.

“The Pacific Islands rely heavily on trade for economic survival. But for many of our countries, we import more than we export. If crowned Miss South Pacific, what would you do to encourage stronger export markets and how would you do this.”

Janine asked the host to repeat the question.  Beaming I knew that Janine was using this time to think of an answer and with my heart beating loudly in my chest I hung on every word of her answer.

Janine first acknowledged the importance of trade, saying that it is “one of the key objectives for economic stability within our country, within our region and within our islands. I believe that it is crucial and pivotal for us to accept export.”

“However, not at the expense of our culture. We need to maintain what makes us special and what makes us unique,” she continued.  “Our environment and our culture – this is what that sets us apart from other nations of the world.”

“And we are the guardians of our own little piece of that world and we must maintain and protect us,” she said. “It is crucial and pivotal for us to receive export that presents opportunities for jobs and income and it helps improve our economic and social development. Not only this, but I believe that export helps our people develop and we must be aware of this.”

“And if I were to be crowned Miss South Pacific, I would educate myself with the export within this industry, what people who would help, and also our government bodies who work along side export and trade,” she added.

Picture 8

As soon as she finished her answer I knew Janine had done her best and we had as good a chance as the other girls in winning the crown.  We definitely presented ourselves well and have proven to the South Pacific that Samoa was back in the game.

Imagine our excitement when Janine’s name was called as the winner – bringing the crown back to Samoa after an 11 year absence, making it the perfect event to finish Celebrate Samoa Year on a high.

Picture 9

Prior to Janine leaving for American Samoa I asked Janine what her challenges were facing the competition to which she replied “my confidence – to have the belief, trust and faith that I can actually do this, and of course interview! I’d like to thank everyone for the support, don’t give up on me and please, more prayers!”

Dear Pageant Girl and prayers…the perfect recipe for success.


Well done Pageant Girl!  You have brought honor to us all xoxo

Janine Tuivaiti, Miss Samoa 2012Photo courtesy of Miss Samoa and Samoa Tourism Authority

Janine Tuivaiti, Miss South Pacific 2012
Photo courtesy of Miss Samoa and Samoa Tourism Authority