Fijian beauty queen loses crown

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 15:06 13/05/2012
Miss Fiji Torika Watters
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DUMPED: Torika Watters has been forced to step down as Miss Fiji.

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A 16-year-old Fiji beauty queen, harshly criticised for being too white and not indigenous enough, has lost her crown.

School girl Torika Watters, a kailoma or mixed European/Fiji heritage person, was last month selected by the Miss World franchise, with a judging panel that included New Zealand model Rachel Hunter.

Watters was originally told she was eligible despite being 16 by show promoter Andhy Blake, but after fury broke out in Fiji over her race he announced this weekend that she was out for being too young.

A runner up, Koini Vakaloloma, 27, will now represent Fiji at the Miss World contest in Mongolia later in the year.

Vakaloloma is Fiji born and, according to the FijiLive website, is of Guajarati/French mix and speaks seven languages.

She was adopted by an indigenous Fijian family at birth.

"Being an ambassador for your country is not an easy task but it comes with responsibilities and more sacrifice," Vakaloloma said after Watters issued an angry statement.

"I would like to state that I have had no involvement in any of this underhand process and that I have been blind to this entire drama going on behind the scenes," Watters had said.

"I had no knowledge of any pre-selection or pre-judging."

Watters said she did not do anything "sneaky or wrong".

She had been delighted to accept the title.

"I am proud of my identity as a Fijian and have never considered my people as racists."

She said Blake had told her she had lost the title because Julia Morley of the British based Miss World organisation said 16-year-olds could not enter.

Watters says this had not been the case when she was asked to enter and she was now pulling out.

"I was worried about the lies, the deception, the lack of transparency and the lack of professionalism," she says.

 

Blake told the Fiji Times today would only confirm that the Fijian contestant was taking over.

He said the Miss World committee had been very happy with his work and "really that's a testament in itself".

But one of the judges, Hupfeld Hoerder, has told Mai Life magazine said the result may have been pre-determined before the show.

"Torika is the innocent one here. Through all this she's been victimised," Hoerder said.

Watters had not been in the top three but Blake wanted her "and that since he was the one who spent a lot of time with the girls, he knew who should be the one."

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After Watters was named, the Miss Fiji Facebook site had to delete hundreds of comments, saying "violent or racist comments will not be tolerated".

- Stuff

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