In a rare act of camaraderie New Zealand's Miss World has offered her support to Miss Universe New Zealand who hit headlines last week after it was announced she may be stripped of her title.
Avianca Bohm, 22, who represents Howick was crowned Miss Universe in a Wellington ceremony last Saturday, but less than 24 hours later organisers admitted she should never have won because she is not a New Zealand citizen.
Organisers are now scrambling to get citizenship for the 22-year-old to allow her to represent New Zealand at the Miss Universe pageant in December.
Mianette Broekman, who took the New Zealand Miss World title in 2011 and was placed in the top 20 at the Miss World pageant was also a permanent resident when she was crowned with her citizenship under application.
''I'm [also] South African-born and I lived there until I was 13. I went to school here and I studied here but when I entered Miss New Zealand, I was not a citizen. I felt like a Kiwi long before I received my citizenship.
''I feel for Avianca Bohm. I think it is legitimate to want a Kiwi to represent New Zealand but I think for such a long time pageant directors have gotten away with being negligent, and someone needs to take a stand.''
When Broekman was crowned Miss World last year she had to put in an application to fast track her citizenship so she could go to the event. Unlike Bohm, she managed to dodge any publicity.
''I did keep it on the down-low because I knew it could be blown out of proportion. I was lucky, the same thing could have happened to me."
Broekman was told by the pageant directors halfway through the competition that she needed to be a citizen to go to Miss World.
''At that point I never thought I would win the pageant. I said: ''It's no problem, my papers are in the process but why are you telling me this now''?''
Broekman said Bohm should not shoulder any of the blame for the ''organisers' negligence''.
''She didn't crown herself. They should have checks and balances in place and they should have told her she was not eligible rather than letting the girl enter, pay the entry fee of $3000 and be the one who looks bad.''
Broekman, who phoned Bohm to offer her support this week, hopes pageant organisers will step up and make a formal apology to Bohm.
''They need to say ''we have made a mistake we didn't follow the proper process, we were negligent rather than letting her take the fall''.''
Miss Universe Organisers have admitted they knew Bohm, who emigrated here from South Africa as a teen, was not eligible but did not think she would win the event.
Pageant director Val Lott has blamed an "oversight" and miscommunication for the mix-up but sponsor and judge Jack Yan said judges weren't told of the citizenship issues surrounding Bohm or that competition rules required them to be New Zealand citizens.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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