Danielle Hayes wins NZ's Next Top Model

VICTORIA ROBINSON
Last updated 23:05 29/10/2010

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Danielle Hayes, 19 has won New Zealand's Next Top Model.

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Danielle Hayes says she cried when it was announced she would be New Zealand's Next Top Model, because she had expected her competitor Michaela Steenkamp to win.

Guests at a glamorous wrap party at Auckland's Langham Hotel watched the episode as it aired on TV3, with contestants Hayes, 19, Steenkamp, 16, Elza and Nellie Jenkins, 18, and Dakota Biddle, 18, standing with their arms wrapped around each other.

Hayes told Stuff she never expected to win the competition.

"I cried. It was a genuine cry. I was so surprised that I won. I thought Michaela had it in the bag from the get-go."

The final episode of the show featured Hayes, Steenkamp and Elza Jenkins shooting a Covergirl advertisement, and Hayes and Steenkamp strutting their stuff on the runway of the World of WearableArt show in Wellington.

Hayes, who won-over fans for her upfront style, declared Top Model was her "ticket out of Kawerau" before winning the show tonight.

The judges commented that Steenkamp was a "safer, more consistent bet", but judge Colin Mathura-Jeffree described Hayes' potential as "world stage".

Hayes, who entered the competition on a dare, won despite bungling her commercial shoot for one of the show's sponsors. She said her lack of confidence nearly lost her the competition.

"I really lacked confidence in the beginning and in that last episode it showed clearly that I stood back from the whole competition and went back to my old self."

Steenkamp, the runner-up, told Stuff she was surprised Hayes was announced the winner.

"I worked so hard in the final walk and the judges gave me really good feedback. I was a little bit confused and kind of like, 'what?'," she said.

"But I came this far and I'm proud of myself and my family is and everyone is and that's really cool."

Elza Jenkins, who made it to third place in the competition, told Stuff that she thought Hayes would be an ideal top model.

"She's perfect really. She's beautiful, her skin's glowing, great smile, personality, everything that you could ever imagine."

Jenkins, whose identical twin Nellie was eliminated from the show weeks before her, was philosophical about not winning the competition.

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"It was really hard being so close to the prize but, you know, things just sometimes don't work out and it's made me want to pursue modelling even harder."

The twins were criticised occasionally by fans for having a very close relationship.

"People will never understand the closeness between me and Nellie," said Jenkins.

"I expect that. They think it's stupid and that we're weird... It's hurtful to hear but we also understand that no-one will ever feel as loved."

The final episode showed Steenkamp telling the cameras that part of her wanted Danielle to fail in the Covergirl advertisement.

"Watching that with Danielle was just a little bit awkward," Steenkamp said.

"I was holding onto her and I was like 'oh no, I'm really sorry, I really didn't mean it'. But she was like 'who cares, I've said bad stuff about the girls'."

The final episode also showed Hayes accidentally walking in Steenkamp's way at the World of WearableArts show.

Steenkamp said on the show she would be angry if Hayes continued on to win the competition.

She told Stuff she is still upset about how things worked out.

"I was really peed off. I was like 'if you win I'm going to be annoyed because you ruined my walk'."

"It was just mixed emotions when she did win. I was just angry and sad and confused. It took a lot for me personally and with the help of my family to get over that."

"I've had a few meltdowns at home and that."  

But it was clear at the wrap party that any hard feelings have been put to the side.

When Hayes was presented with keys to a Ford Fiesta as part of her prize, she yelled "who calls shotgun?".

Elza Jenkins and Steenkamp were the first to run forward.

- Stuff

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