Miss Universe NZ crown sits unsteadily

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 09:14 15/06/2012
Miss Universe NZ

PAGEANT MUDDLE: Miss Universe NZ winner Avianca Bohm, centre, and runner-up Talia Bennett, left, are not New Zealand citizens.

Avianca Bohm Miss Universe
ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ
AVIANCA BOHM: Says she did not expect to win the competition.

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The fate of New Zealand's controversial new beauty queen hangs in the balance, with international organisers indicating that she may yet lose her crown.

The Miss Universe New Zealand pageant has been embroiled in controversy since Howick's Avianca Bohm claimed the title earlier this month, despite being ineligible because she isn't a New Zealand citizen.

Bohm hoped to fast-track her citizenship ahead of December's Miss Universe pageant, but it is understood she's since been asked to relinquish her tiara and has engaged lawyers to fight it.

A decision on the 22-year-old's eligibility will be made by Miss Universe bosses next week.

"Things are in place so it will all be confirmed on Tuesday," Miss Universe New Zealand organiser Val Lott said.

Lott said international pageant officials had so far indicated South African-born Bohm who came to New Zealand as a teen would lose her crown.

"The indication was no [she won't keep it] but goodness knows now, everyone's got their fingers in the pie now so we'll just have to wait and see."

She said she could not comment further ahead of the decision.

Lott said the decision needed to be made so the right Miss New Zealand could carry out her duties.

"I have to wait now until I talk to them but we've got events to get on with so I need to just move on with what I've got to do."

"No one is Miss Universe (NZ) right now, unfortunately."

Lott said she'd had "a lot of sleepless nights" over the controversy which she called "a damn nuisance".

"This has just turned into a nightmare and it's totally unnecessary. The girls and I had a fabulous week, we all get on very well, it now looks like there's a circus going on."

She said the issue would not impact future events and had increased it's public profile.

"All publicity is good. It's not necessarily the sort of publicity I would like but never mind, we all move on."

She earlier defended Bohm's selection, saying she knew Bohm was ineligible before the pageant but did not think she would win.

Lott said she told head judge Jack Yan that Bohm could not win though Yan denies this.

If Bohm is declared ineligible, runner-up Talia Bennett, representing North Harbour, would claim the crown.

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