Not native enough? 16yo Torika Watters stripped of Miss Fiji title
Torika Watters, who is of mixed European and Fijian heritage, was told yesterday that she couldn’t keep her crown after all – but organisers said it had nothing to do with her white skin or her hair.
Instead, they said that contestants for the title – part of the build up to the British-based Miss World competition – had to be at least 16 years and 11 months old.
Miss Watters fell a few months short of that rule, said the organisers, so her title was being withdrawn.
She had beaten a large number of indigenous Fijian women to win the title last month in a competition overseen by New Zealand supermodel Rachel Hunter.
Such was the anger among Fijians in a country where racial division is deep seated that hateful comments had to be deleted from the official Miss World Fiji Facebook page, the Fiji Times reported.
Miss Watters told the paper that Miss World Fiji pageant director, Andhy Blake, had told her that the Miss World Organisation had told him she was too young to have entered the pageant.
She added that Mr Blake had earlier made it clear that there was no issue with her age.
‘Mr Blake told me I was eligible and he handpicked me to enter the competition at the semi-final stage,’ she said.
She told the paper that she had no intention of fighting to hold on to the crown.
‘I’ve agreed to relinquish it. I was becoming very uncomfortable with the situation,’ she said.
She told of ‘lies, deception, the lack of transparency and the lack of professionalism’ as reasons for leaving the Fijian capital, Suva, and the ‘entire pageant fiasco’ to return to New Zealand.
‘I would like to state that I have had no involvement in any of this underhand process and that I have been blind to this entire drama going on behind the scenes,’ she said.
Speaking about suggestions that a race row had effected the outcome of the competition, she said she was proud of her identity as a Fijian and had never considered ‘my people’ as racists.
The row erupted when locals said she should not have won the title because she did not have a buiniga – the local word to describe the naturally-frizzy Fijian hairstyle.
A pageant spokesman said there had been hundreds of complaints resulting in many having to be deleted from the contest’s Facebook page.
‘There has been nothing but negative criticism and remarks from our own people,’ the spokesman said.
The title has now gone to 24-year-old Koini Vakaloloma, who was runner-up. She will go on to represent Fiji at the Miss World 2012 pageant in Mongolia in August.
SOURCE: Daily Mail
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