Beauty queens not NZ citizens

GRANT BRYANT
Last updated 14:27 05/06/2012
Monique Cooley
Miss Otago Monique Cooley at the Miss Universe New Zealand pageant. Pageant organisers are now under the media spotlight because Miss Cooley and the winner, Avianca Bohm are not New Zealand citizens. ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ 626613288

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The Queenstown beauty queen who placed highly in the Miss Universe New Zealand pageant feels she has been dragged into a judge's row for not being a Kiwi citizen.

The media spotlight has been turned on pageant organisers after it was discovered Miss Otago Monique Cooley, who was third runner-up, and Miss Howick, Avianca Bohm, who won the Miss New Zealand title on Sunday night, are not New Zealand citizens.

Miss Cooley was born in Australia but has lived in New Zealand for 12 years, and Miss Bohm is a South African citizen.

Just before leaving for a 10-day holiday in Hawaii, Ms Cooley told The Southland Times she had "no shame'' in the citizenship situation because she had lived in New Zealand for over half her life, regarded herself a Kiwi, and would still consider representing Otago in the pageant next year.

"I had a call from one of the judges last night, who taped the conversation, then got it out to the media, which is why both me and Avianca have been written about today,'' she said.

Between catching connecting flights, Miss Cooley had only been able to speak with pageant organiser Val Lott's husband and business partner Allan Parker today.

"They are trying to deal with it in the most positive way possible ... The judge that's spreading this whole thing, Jack Yang, I don't know why he's doing it. I am not the winner, I am the third-runner up, so I really don't know why I've been flung into this whole situation.''

Mr Yang is a judge of the pageant, but also a sponsor.

She had been flooded with media requests for interviews since news broke about the potential scandal.

"Everyone knew that I was originally from Australia, but New Zealand is my home and unfortunately it was never made clear to me that I had to apply for citizenship,'' she said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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