The reign of Auckland student Kalo Funganitao as Tonga's Miss Heilala has been wiped off the official records after she accused the
beauty pageant of bullying.
Her speech last week at the Miss Heilala pageant in Nuku'alofa stirred controversy across the Pacific, with calls for pageants to come to an end, for the deputy prime minister of Tonga to resign and for young women to challenge authority.
The Tonga Tourist Assocation, which operated the Heilala Festival, issued a statement on Friday hitting back at Funganitao.
It said she had failed to perform her duties as Miss Heilala 2018-19 and had therefore forfeited her title. It said the runner up would be retrospectively named as Miss Heilala 2018-19
Before handing over the crown to this year's
winner, Funganitao delivered a fiery speech which accused the pageant organisers of not supporting her, highlighted serious claims of cyberbullying and said the experience had been traumatic for herself and her family.
Her speech was not well received on the night. She spoke to a chorus of jeers and some support, before her microphone was cut off and music was played to drown out her speech.
"I have experienced just how hard it can be to be a young Tongan woman. I have dealt with people in official roles and in other places, in the work force that have been unprofessional and rude and just straight out mind-boggling," she said.
A local reporter from Matangi Tonga said they overheard Deputy Prime Minister Semisi Sika telling the DJ to
play loud music over Funganitao. That allegation, which Stuff has repeatedly contacted the ministry for comment on, has led many in Tonga to call for Sika to step down.
In an interview with Stuff, Funganitao said the crowd and other contestants had bullied her when she was crowned Miss Heilala last year.
"The night that it happened, I got a lot of boos. As I was going up to revive my sash for those first places there were just more and more boos and then when I was crowned it was overwhelming how angry people were," she recalled.
"The team that I was with and my family had to form a protective barrier around me as I was going down the stage, and going out to the car, because there were actually people who were trying to cut through so that they could, I don't know..."
The Tonga Tourist Association, which was overseen by Sika, has not responded to Funganitao's allegations.
Its only public response has been to strip her of her title.
Source: Stuff.co.nz, July 13, 2-19
Coco Arayha Suparurk was crowned Miss Grand Thailand 2019 in Bitec Bangna Hall in Bangkok on July 13. She represented the municipality of
Suparurk stirred some controversy after she posted on her Instagram a photo of the current Miss Universe Catriona Gray next to that of Miss Grand International 2018 Clara Sosa. In the photo, Clara was described as "fit" and Catriona as "fat". Her post generated much hatred mostly from Filipino pageant fans who were hoping that Suparurk would not win the national title.
Paweensuda Drouin, also known by her Thai nickname Fahsai, has been crowned Miss Universe Thailand 2019 on June 29 at Thunder Dome, Muang Thong Thani in Pak Kret. She will now represent Thailand in the next edition of Miss Universe whose date and venue have not yet been confirmed. Drouin was born and raised in Canada, but moved to Thailand to pursue a modeling and DJ career. She is a pageant veteran, having competed in Miss Universe Thailand 2017 where she placed second runner-up. She also represented Thailand in Miss Earth 2017 where she made the top 8.
Drouin was crowned by outgoing Miss Universe, Catriona Gray. Her court includes first runner-up Miriam Sornprommas and second runner-up Thanatchaphon Boonsang.
Photo credit: Miss Universe Thailand Facebook Page
The new Miss Universe Australia is Priya Serrao, 26, who was crowned on June 27 at the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins Hotel. Serrao was born in India, raised in the Middle East and moved to Australia when she was 11. Her story resembles that of the new Miss Universe Panama Mehr Eliezer who is also Indian-born and of Indian descent. Serrao represented the state of Victoria. She will now compete in the next edition of Miss Universe whose date and venue have yet to be confirmed.
Serrao's court includes first runner-up Bella Kasinga, second runner-up Marijana Radmanovic, third runner-up Julia Edwards and fourth runner-up Madeline Cowe who is Miss World Australia 2016. Claire Parker, who was Miss Grand International 2015, was shut out from the top five.
Photos taken from Facebook
Sofia Aragón, 23, representing the state of Jalisco, was crowned Mexicana Universal 2019 on June 23rd. She will now represent Mexico in the next edition of Miss Universe whose date and venue have not been confirmed.
Yuridia Durán, representing Nayarit, was crowned Miss International Mexico 2019 and will travel to Japan on November 12th to compete in Miss International 2019.
Regina Peredo, representing Puebla, was crowned Mexicana Universal Reina Hispanoamericana and will travel to Bolivia sometime in November to compete in Reina Hispanoamericana 2019 pageant.
The pageant was attended by the outgoing Miss International, Mariam Velasco (center) and by its director, Lupita Jones (farthest right), Mexico's first Miss Universe.
Watch Sofia Aragón's coronation: