13 Feb 2024

Miss NZ on 21st century pageants: 'So much more involved than just being pretty'

From Nights, 10:37 pm on 13 February 2024
Georgia waves to a crowd. She is wearing a large silver and red crown, a sash saying 'MISS NEW ZEALAND', and a cloak of feathers.

Part of Georgia Waddington's campaign for Miss New Zealand involved ambassador work for mental health charity I Am Hope and sexual violence victims' trust Brave. Photo: Supplied

Current Miss New Zealand Georgia Waddington says the role is about so much more than just beauty, while alo giving her the chance to "learn so much about yourself".

Waddington was crowned Miss New Zealand last year at the age of 22.

Originally from Christchurch and now living up north in Cambridge, she went on to compete in the Miss International pageant in Japan in October, winning the title of 'Miss Photogenic International'.

Waddington had never competed in a pageant before entering Miss New Zealand, but has come to love the role.

She told RNZ Nights that pageants these days are about much more than just beauty - it's "beauty with a purpose".

"There is so much more involved than just being pretty, a lot of it is charity work, and what you do for the community, and environmental action, all those things. So there is definitely a lot more to it."

She does ambassador work for mental health charity I Am Hope and sexual violence victims' trust Brave.

Waddington remains active on social media and says being Miss NZ has been a full time job with the charity work and pageant rehearsals, especially when she was preparing for the Japan event. 

She says one of her main roles has involved educating people about how beauty pageants have evolved "a lot", with things like bathing suit segments taking place behind closed doors. 

She says that the hard work was worth it because "you learn so much about yourself on the journey".

"You are forced to go out of your comfort zone. So like public speaking was something I'd never done, but now I'm doing it in front of thousands of students at events, so it's pretty cool what you learn about yourself.

"I still feel like I've stayed true to myself."

But she still says one of the hardest things was learning the pageant walk.

"We need to walk in heels and do a pageant strut.

"I thought I could very easily walk in heels - which I can - however walking in a pageant walk is much different. It's your posture and the way your hips move."