A MOTHER of four with a will to empower and uplift, has won a top title in the Miss Rotorua contest.

Kristal Pehi took the Mrs Rotorua title in the pageant, for her dedication as an outstanding mother.

The contest, which took place last month, required entrants to strut their stuff, flex their mental muscles and support a Rotorua charity.

Mrs Pehi supported the Rotorua Community Maori Wardens, raising $1000 for the group while championing female empowerment.

“In my campaign, I decided to go with woman empowerment, because my mum empowers me,” she said.

“That was the question I was asked by one of the judges, who inspires you and why?

“My answer was my mum, Donna Kelly. I want to be just like her,” said Mrs Pehi.

Mrs Kelly, who still lives in Opotiki, works with the community through Whakatohea, and

Mrs Pehi said she had been a great influence on her life.

“Women need empowerment in everything we do and as mums, and each of our girls need to empower each other,” said Mrs Pehi.

She hopes to convey this message to her daughters, who are aged between 9 and 18.

“I want to make sure they go into the world empowered, and knowing they are important,” she said.

That message was broadcast loud and clear on the awards night, with Mrs Pehi’s children, mother and brother there to support her.

“They were all so excited, I could hear them yelling when my name was called out,” she said.

Kristal Pehi looks elegant in evening wear, above, and pictured right, is draped with a korowai, takes a moment with director Kharl Wirepa, who also has ties to Opotiki.
Photos supplied

Mrs Pehi said her family had then come up to the stage congratulating her, excitement running high.

“I felt absolutely proud of myself, ecstatic,” she said.

“It was that moment of ‘Oh my gosh, I did it’.

“I’m quite proud to have represented my family and my iwi, and made my girls proud,” she said.

With the contest over for this year, Mrs Pehi said it had been a long journey getting through it all.

“It’s not easy, it takes a lot of effort to be in these pageants,” she said.

These efforts include fundraising for her daughters various school and sporting events on top of the contest.

“I wasn’t only trying to raise money for the Rotorua Community Maori Wardens, I had to manage doing my daughter’s stuff,” she said.

“It was a lot, overwhelming at times. Now I’m dedicating spending a lot of time with my kids.”

Mrs Pehi was not the only Opotiki talent in the contest with director Kharl Wirepa also having ties to the area.

“Kharl Wirepa and I both connect from the Rewita blood lines back to our tipuna Muriwai,” said Mrs Pehi.

As a crowned winner in the competition, Mrs Pehi will have the option of entering the Miss Universe New Zealand competition next year, vying for a spot in the international Miss Universe competition.

“That’s where the competition really heats up,” she said.

Until then, Mrs Pehi said she planned to return to Opotiki in the near future, and possibly speak with some young aspiring pageant entrants.

“I definitely recommend it for everyone,” she said.

“Even our young girls, especially for building self-confidence.”

Mrs Pehi said her advice to those looking to get into pageants and modelling was to be themselves and be confident.

“Modelling is not just about outward beauty,” she said.

“For me, it was to inspire my girls and supporting my community.

“Be yourself, you’re up there representing yourself and your family,” said Mrs Pehi.

She added that the women in the Miss Rotorua pageant had all grown close throughout the competition, and still kept in touch.

“You make lots of new friends, we’re a sisterhood now,” she said.

“We’re actually really close, and we have still been supporting each other even after it finished.”

james.sandbrook@opotikinews.co.nz