Pageant winner has beauty and brains
Beauty plus brains is a winning formula for Elena Turner.
The 44-year-old mathematics teacher charmed judges with her dazzling smile and impressive intellect to be crowned Mrs New Zealand this month.
The pageant is a part of the Mrs International competitions which are open to married women between the ages of 21 and 56.
With no modelling or pageant experience Mrs Turner was divided on the idea of entering the competition when her daughter Katrina suggested it.
"I had never really thought about it before. I'm a maths teacher. We don't walk the stage," she says.
The Kohimarama resident decided to take the plunge and enter the competition, but the first hurdle was shopping for a figure-hugging evening gown.
"It is a very big part of the event. It is worth 25 per cent of the points," she says.
"I went shopping and everything I tried on I didn't like.
"I felt very disappointed in the way I looked. Then I realised I had to walk in swimwear and that was a shock, but I didn't quit."
Instead, the mother of two started a strict exercise and diet regime. In the eight weeks leading up to the competition she dropped two dress sizes from a 14 to a 10.
"I was shining on stage. People said that to me and I felt like that - just so amazing," she says.
Mrs Turner topped seven other finalists to take the title of Mrs New Zealand.
Her triumph came as shock to her colleagues and students at Western Springs College - she hadn't told anyone about entering.
"When I won I brought my crown to school and went straight to the principal's office to show him. And when I told my students they were absolutely excited, they were all clapping."
Mrs Turner aims to use her new title for good. She plans to visit schools as a motivational speaker.
"I want to tell everybody it is good to be educated and you can be beautiful," she says.
The Russian born beauty can certainly walk the talk, she gained a bachelors degree in science and a diploma in finance while living in Moscow. When she moved to New Zealand five years ago she undertook a diploma in teaching at the University of Auckland.
"I like teaching mathematics. It's a very demanding subject. But when I see their eyes and they become interested in what I am teaching, that is the best feeling," she says.
Mrs Turner's win will see her jetting to Florida, United States to compete in Mrs International in 2014.
Auckland City Harbour News