Miss Universe New Zealand organisers have been left further red-faced by revelations a runner up was also not eligible to compete.
Organisers admit they knew Avianca Bohm, who emigrated here from South Africa as a teen, was not eligible but say they didn't think the Howick resident would win Saturday's event.
They 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.
Pageant director Val Lott is blaming an "oversight" for the mix-up but sponsor and judge Jack Yan today revealed third runner-up Miss Otago Monique Cooley is an Australian citizen and was also ineligible.
He did not want a tit-for-tat with pageant organisers but said judges weren't told of the citizenship issues surrounding Bohm and Cooley, or that competition rules required them to be New Zealand citizens.
"If we had been told that Avianca was not eligible how come we hadn't been told that the other foreign national was also not eligible?" he said.
"If you line up 10 people for a 100m sprint you don't really say to the referees that no matter who comes first, second or third, you've got to discount a couple of people."
Lott claimed she had told Yan that Bohm was not a New Zealand citizen and therefore couldn't win. She said events had since been "blown out of proportion".
"Jack Yan knew but it wasn't discussed with everybody else so it was probably a genuine oversight because it hasn't happened before. Everybody must he aware that we're a multicultural society, now we have to all be sure that everybody has got New Zealand citizenship."
Despite the pageant rules, Lott said she didn't think the fact Bohm wasn't a New Zealand citizen would be an issue.
"We've known Avianca a long time and her and I both knew that she couldn't win. We didn't think that was going to be an issue because I don't think that she thought she was going to win anyway."
Lott said had Cooley won, it would have been easy for her to get a New Zealand passport.
"If you've lived here that many years and she has, you can get a New Zealand passport overnight. It's not a big deal at all.
"Lots of girls will have different passports and some want to have dual passports."
Pageant organisers remained committed to Bohm, Lott said, and were confident they would get her a New Zealand passport ahead of the international pageant.
"I suppose in hindsight we should've just reiterated to them on the night... it's been all a bit of an oversight, a very good learning reminder of dotting Is and crossing Ts."
Bohm was not concerned by the issue, Lott said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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