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CB chats with Rose Foulger, director of Miss World New Zealand


What prompted you to be interested in pageants, and how did your interest in pageants prompt you to acquire the New Zealand franchise of Miss World?

     Firstly, growing up in an environment surrounded with pageants in every corner of the provinces in the Philippines, it seemed like a duty to continue the tradition when the right time came for my husband and I to take over the NZ Franchise. Whilst being involved in community work within New Zealand with emphasis on greater understanding through cultural interchange & by holding cultural activities integrated into beauty pageants, it came to pass that when Miss World franchise in NZ was vacant, New Zealand Asia Pacific Trust (a charitable organization) seized the opportunity to take it with the premise that we could enhance more our objective by working alongside with MWO with their "Beauty with a Purpose" ethos.

Tell us your strategy in recruiting potential contestants for your pageants. In other words, where do you find likely candidates and what do you do to convince them to sign up for the contests?

     We don't advertise on papers, as we know not too many people are reading printed editions these days, but we use flyers, posters, the social media, websites, word of mouth, previous contestants and Management Committee campaigns.

     Interested parties apply to enter the pageant. Upon receipt of applications, the committee sent them the rules/terms and conditions of the pageant thru email and subsequently we invite them to attend an Orientation Day. We usually receive as many as 90 applicants,about a third coming from the orientation and usually ending up with between 12-15 official finalists, who will then go on to be the official contestants. The finalists are issued an official letter from the Trust that they can solicit sponsorships either for the organization or for their pageant related personal use.

     We have found this strategy effective as it eliminates applicants who have different motives or agenda apart from representing a true Kiwi in the international community. It discourages applicants who are not up to a challenge and not mature enough to take the responsibility that a Miss World Candidate demands.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job as a pageant director?

     As far as a pageant director is concerned, there's not a single aspect related to ND's work that is not most challenging. Everything about it is a challenge, be it securing sponsorship, dealing with contestants & family, planning and scheduling of activities, working as a team, etc.

     It is common knowledge that New Zealand is an anomaly on the World Beauty Pageant scene in that it is very largely indifferent to beauty pageants. This is especially so with regard to Government and large corporates. It is frustrating and challenging to persuade these groups and the public at large to alter their understanding of Beauty Pageants as they are today compared with those of yesteryear. There seems to be a total lack of understanding of the concept of Beauty With a Purpose with perception still orienting around the “flesh and bikini” Beauty Pageants of old. It is disappointing indeed that there are still people, in this modern tech savvy world, who think that girls who are joining beauty pageants are only those who love to show off their beautiful body & beautiful face, being dumb or of no education. All sorts of undesirable misbranding fuelled by media, critics, and jealous individuals only exacerbate this misconception. What is more frustrating is when skeptics think that the best answer the candidates could manage when a question is asked is to talk about world peace. Little do they know that these girls are not only beautiful inside and out but are more intelligent than those critics who profess to be well educated pontificating from their own supposed moral highground. One of my own observations in life is that people are only able to judge others from their own standards which from a media and vociferous critics viewpoint, is in my opinion, a bigoted one.

What do you like best about being a pageant director?

     There's never a dull moment being a pageant director. Every day is a new day, a new challenge, new problems and new solutions. New relationships formed either with one’s fellow workers, the contestants, the media, or the public in general. There's no R & R except when one travels to attend the International Pageant, then back again with nose to the grindstone for the next project. However, we love it because it keeps us going, keeps us young, keeps us updated, keeps us challenged with a cycle of actions that never ends.


How do you handle a difficult contestant or titleholder?

     There is nothing one can do to change one’s personality, if a titleholder turns out to be a prima donna or becomes big headed after winning the title, let her be, it is a part of her personality or upbringing unfortunately!

     The only way to handle a difficult title holder is to quietly fulfill our duty and obligations, supply what is to be supplied, and provide the things expected from the organiser in accord to what is specified in the contract. I don’t see any advantage to telling her off or making a threat of some sorts and we dont overtly make her feel that we are not happy but ultimately her attitude will end up with her not getting the support that other contestants or title holders enjoy. In short, we fullfill our duty but that is all. Tough decisions from the point of view of our national aspirations but a tough lesson to learnt, in the end, by the contestant herself!

     Only if her attitude is judged beyond the boundaries set by the organization, do we send her an ultimatum.

     Fortunately these contestants are a rarity as we have become quite astute at judging candidates from square one. It is fair to say, however that occasionaly one slips under the radar.

How do you handle a sponsor who fails to fulfill his/her commitment?

     I guess at this stage, we’re lucky in a way because we haven’t had any sponsors who have turned away from their obligations. The reason probably behind this is that we don’t announce or include any sponsors in our promotional materials nor post in our website until we get the goods either monetary or in kind.

What do you say to critics (contestants, parents, fans) who claim that the contest results are rigged?

     Say nothing, silence is the best form of defense! We learned from experience that nothing one says could make a disgruntled or losing side accept the facts or believe a logical explanation, so why justify? If they persist we just refer them to the Judges. Strangely this has not happened as yet!

Do you think pageants will still be relevant 20 years from now?

     Since time immemorial critics, feminists, pageant haters have been saying that beauty pageants are dying and will eventually be gone but I doubt it! They are getting stronger and stronger and will continue as long as there are organisers, there are titles to be competed, there are contestants, there are fans to support, and so forth. It may take different directions of some sort but the concept will still be the same.

     A lesson in history can be taken from Apple Computer. Critics have prophesised its demise since 1980 or so but it is now the Worlds most prosperous Company. The moral? Persistence overcomes resistance.

     With the resurgence of beautiful intelligent, talented and career women who want to be to take on every challenge afforded to them, I won’t be surprised if one day beauty pageants will dominate the daily news internationally once again.

Is there a question that you haven't been asked that you want people to ask you, and what would your answer be?

     Yes there is one: Could you explain in one sentence, the difference between Miss Universe and Miss World?

     The answer is: Miss Universe concentrates solely on Beauty whereas Miss World concentrates on Beauty With a Purpose.

     Therein lies a world of difference.



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