Forget swimwear and spray tans: the Rose of Tralee is a beauty pageant that celebrates what’s on the inside.
This weekend, eight young women from around the country competed for the right to represent the Kiwi Irish community in the Rose of Tralee finals in Ireland in August. They were judged on their intelligence, accomplishments and dedication to the community as well as personality and talent.
The contest wound up last night with a grand ball organised by the Irish Society, at which contestants showcased their sense of humour and poise in interviews.
Last night, the 2012 Rose of Tralee title went to Alana Marshall, a recreation and events administrator with the New Plymouth District Council. Her great great grandfather came from Forthill, Co Antrim and her great great grandmother came from Ennis, Co Clare.
New Zealand’s Rose of 2011, Alibhe Ryan, said competing was every Irish girl’s dream.
“They don’t aspire to be Britney Spears or anyone like that; they want to be a Rose.”
Organisers say their event shows how contests for pretty young women can work, despite controversy over other beauty pageants.
The 2006 Miss Universe New Zealand winner, Elizabeth Aitken, last week told the Herald on Sunday she would not let her own daughter participate.
A contestant in the recent Miss World New Zealand pageant, which costs $1500 to enter, has warned others against competing.
The woman, who did not want to be named, said inconsistent judging and a lack of support from the organisers left her disappointed and exhausted.
“Had I invested the same money and energy into anything else, it would have opened so many more doors for me.”
By Celeste Gorrell Anstiss
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