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Chase your dream

Marieka Men official photograph as Miss Scuba International. (Photo supplied)

Pageantry is something I enjoy. I love the challenges; from walking in six inch heels to advocating about matters in front of an audience and on social media.

This year I had a vision of wanting to make a difference. An idealist, George Bernard Shaw quoted;

 You see things and you say ‘why?’ But I dream things that never were and I say ‘why not?’ “


This quote inspired me to take on the Miss Asia Pacific NZ and Miss Globe NZ 2020 journey (which has been rebranded to Miss Kanorau).

It was a different experience as this journey was through the global pandemic. Therefore, there were a lot of zoom meetings and rescheduling of events to respect New Zealand’s rules and regulations.

This pageant journey taught me the meaning of friendship, unity, diversity, and about embracing the beauty within others and ourself. No one compared themselves to anybody else because we realised that all of us have something special, unique and beautiful to offer.

We all learnt how to love ourselves and others embracing ethnicity, culture and background.


A couple of months before coronation night we had an ‘Empower me’ workshop where we all met each other for the first time.

I wasn’t feeling the greatest mentally and physically but all the girls were supportive and helped me and everyone else out.

We weren’t judging one another but rather talking about what we admire from each other.

We were aware that some of us were doing a pageant for the first time and were really nervous.  Also, some of us had a malfunction with our shoes or dress or struggled with mental health or personal problems.

So we all focused on just encouraging each other, giving advice and help. This helped all of us grow in grace and confidence.

We all came together before the final night and did a prayer to help and support those who needed it.

Backstage before coronation night with the rest of the contestants. Photo supplied

Some of  the girls helped me with my dress and shoe malfunctions. Others helped by being the perfect momma bear and being super encouraging.

The girls are an amazing and adventurous bunch and the Miss Kanorau pageant was a competition that united us rather than divided us.

It created an everlasting sisterhood and helped me to overcome my fears and past baggage.

Dealing with my past

Over the years, from growing up in my teens to my 20’s, I had experienced a lot of bad situations which had affected my confidence and mental well-being.

I was scared to come to terms with it, and open up about it for a long time because I felt judged and scared of what others might think or how they’d react.

I took on this pageant journey as a way to find purpose, gain confidence and love myself.

It was also an incredible opportunity to advocate on behalf of others who are still trying to find their voice by speaking up about sexual abuse, mental health, encouragement and empowerment.

I wanted to learn from my past mistakes and bad decisions. To escape from the dark tunnel of not wanting to exist and pull through to a beautiful destination where I’ve grown into an individual who knows her self worth.

To become a person who loves and respects herself, who is not defined by her past, and who is constantly trying to better herself and help others around her.

A new journey

Now I’m on a new journey taking on Miss Scuba International NZ.  This is an opportunity to not just be an advocate on behalf of others on matters like virtues, mental health and sexual abuse awareness, but also marine conservation, animals and the environment.

This is very exciting because I have a passion for biology, adventuring around open waters and swimming!

I am grateful to be able to represent New Zealand next year in Miss Scuba International.  This pageant is dedicated to marine conservation which makes it a one of a kind and a dream come true.

I had a dream of being a mermaid when I was three so to be able to associate more with the underwater world has fulfilled my dreams.

My message is, your past does not define who you are and neither does other people’s opinions.

Dream big and it can lead you to opportunities and places where you will thrive.

The first step is to take a leap of faith and do it.

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