Miss Papua New Guinea, Leoshina Mercy Kariha (18) was crowned Miss Pacific Islands 2018 at the ‘Atele Indoor Stadium, in Tonga, early this morning, December 1.
A crowd favourite, she was the youngest of the contestants. Leoshina was awarded Best Talent, Best Interview with special awards that included Miss Tourism and Miss Personality for being outgoing. Her prizes were presented during an Island Ball, the final event of a two-night Pageant.
Currently a student at Divine Word University in Madang Province (PNG) pursuing a Bachelor of Arts under PNG Studies Relations, she aims to become a diplomat or social worker and serve her society.
Passionate about working with youth and empowering them through education, she wants to be a source of encouragement to them that “they can move mountains no matter their status”.
The first runner-up was Miss Cook Islands Lydia Simonis; second runner-up Miss Samoa Sonia Piva; and third runner-up Miss Tuvalu, Emelipelesa Panapa.
Other special awards for Best Sarong and Traditionally Inspired Wear went to Miss Samoa, while Miss Photogenic and Miss Internet was won by Miss Cook Islands. Meanwhile, consolation prizes was awarded each to Miss Tonga and Miss American Samoa.
All of the awards presented came with cash prizes.
The contestants from six Pacific Island countries contested this year’s crown.
This is the second time that Miss Papua New Guinea has won the Miss Pacific Islands crown, with Abigale Havora winning in 2015.
The Miss Pacific Islands Pageant was formerly known as the Miss South Pacific Pageant, established by the government of Samoa in 1987. In 2014 the Pageant was renamed in order to represent the Pacific Region instead of just the South Pacific.
Miss South Pacific has been won by Tonga twice, first by Ma’ata Mo’ungaloa in 1995, and again by Tesi Toluta’u in 2007. Tonga has hosted the pageant on three previous years, in 1995, 1999 and 2005.