Miss Heilala this year has 24 contestants vying to represent Tonga to travel to PNG for the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant.
Kariha said: “I am here attending the Miss Heilala Pageant week in these ‘Friendly Islands’. This year's Heilala festival started on the 22nd of June and will end on 11th July. This will be a fun time in the Kingdom, lots of activities will be held to mark the King's birthday.
“I am blessed to be invited to be a part of this magnificent display of colourful cultures. I look forward to reciprocating the generosity when Miss Heilala and her Tongan team arrives in PNG to participate in the Miss Pacific Islands pageant in November this year.
“Tonga will always hold a special place in my heart as it is where I was crowned Miss Pacific Islands last December.”
Pre-pageant topic presentation and interviews kicked off the first judging event which took place on Monday morning, (July 1) at the Fa’onelua Convention Centre. The contestants shared their views on pressing issues regarding the environment, fitness awareness, language, technology, drugs awareness, unemployment, youth leadership, women in parliament, development of sport and climate change.
“Being here in Tonga to witness these young women boldly share their insight into the reality of life on their island nation through their topic presentations was truly an eye opener,” stated Kariha.
“They expressed their concerns on the struggles of Tongan people which is relatable to our people in other island nations; and their vision for improvement in these areas; socially, economically and politically.”
The next event this week for the Miss Heilala pageant will be a competition in the Tau’olunga (Tongan Traditional Dance) category at the Queen Salote Memorial Hall.
(Leoshina Kariha with some of the 24 Miss Heilala contestants)