Teen named culture queen

01:43, Jan 31 2009
BEAUTY QUEEN: Uttara Iyer was crowned Miss Indianz 2007 and will represent New Zealand at a worldwide pageant next year.

Uttara Iyer doesn't need a magic mirror to tell her she's the fairest of them all.

Uttara was crowned Miss Indianz 2007 at a sold-out pageant at Auckland Girls Grammar.

The 18-year-old won the national competition at the first attempt after being in the audience since she was 11.

"I found it quite fascinating," she says.

"I would watch it with my mum and I thought maybe when I was 18, I would enter.

"It's my last year at school, I thought why not?" she says.

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Contestants had to complete question and answer, talent and fashion rounds.

Uttara's sari in the formal section combined Indian style with traditional Maori patterns.

She saw the outfit at a Pacific fashion show and arranged to borrow it from the designer.

"Most Indian saris are quite glittery and I thought why not incorporate some Maori culture into it," she says.

Her family and school friends 'went crazy' when she was crowned the winner, she says.

Uttara will spend her summer holidays getting ready for the Miss India Worldwide pageant in South Africa in February.

She will represent New Zealand against about 50 other countries.

Pageant director Dharmesh Parikh says the audience and judges were dazzled by the finalists, who showcased rich Kiwi Indian culture, talent and beauty.

The contest raised money for intellectual disability charity IHC.

Central Leader