South African-born beauty queen Avianca Böhm has become embroiled in a debate over her right to represent New Zealand at the Miss Universe contest, with Facebook commentators jumping on the bandwagon to have their say.
Avianca (Miss Howick) was crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2012 on Sunday at the Amora Hotel in Wellington, New Zealand.
But less than 48 hours later and she’s unsure if she’ll be allowed to keep her crown and compete in Donald Trump’s international Miss Universe competition in December.
The problem is that Avianca isn’t actually a New Zealand citizen…yet. Avianca was born in South Africa and emigrated to New Zealand at the age of 16. She’s now 22, and waiting for those important citizenship papers to come through.
Comments on Facebook have ranged from the very angry…
“bottom line. She does not have New Zealand citizenship . She is NOT eligible. The organisers should not have let her enter , let alone compete. How stupid.”
…to the supportive:
“shame, she is still miss universe and DESERVES IT!!! so just get over yourselves! its not her fault it’s the organizers fault! GO AVIANCA!” [We think this supporter is South African! Nobody else uses 'shame' in this context!]
Avianca hopes that her citizenship will be fast-tracked in time for the international beauty contest and told a New Zealand newspaper: ”Everyone’s got contacts, and it’s one of the first things that we’re going to do and sort out. It’s just the paperwork. I mean New Zealand is such a multicultural country. It’s not an issue to me at all, I’m not even worried about that.”
According to the pageant director Val Lott, the blame does not lie with Avianca, who was honest in her entry application about the state of her citizenship (as were some others who are also apparently not New Zealander citizens).
Lott claims that Avianca was allowed to enter as a “confidence booster” and it was made clear that she wouldn’t be permitted to win.
But apparently the chief judge decided Avianca was the most beautiful and therefore should win!
Lott has now contacted the organisers of Miss Universe to find out if Avianca can represent New Zealand.
According to the Miss Universe New Zealand website, Avianca is 5 ft 10 inches, and recently graduated with a fashion degree. Avianca currently works as a brand ambassador, and is a part-time model. Her interests include fashion design, sports, and reading. Her ambition is to become a qualified chartered accountant.