She could be a world-beater - with a little help from her friends.
Balclutha Primary School teacher Kristie Leonard has been selected as the only South Otago representative among 20 Miss Universe New Zealand candidates for October's national finals in Auckland, from which one contender will head forward to the following month's 2013 grand final in Moscow.
The contest is no longer ''just a beauty pageant'', and today's successful Miss Universe contenders also had to demonstrate an ''intelligent, well-mannered and cultured'' attitude, as well as participating in an entrepreneurial challenge, Miss Leonard said.
''For that challenge I've chosen to raise $10,000 for children's charity Variety, so I'm really hoping the South Otago community will get behind me and help out.''
First up was a Balclutha Business Mufti-Day on September 6, with other fundraising events including a car wash, sausage sizzle, movie afternoon and ladies' night also planned before her October 5 deadline.
Funds raised, and any other donations from members of the public or businesses, were being overseen in a notarised bank account for Variety, she said.
Miss Leonard was quietly optimistic about her chances, saying she had, ''the Kiwi factor''.
''I'm just a typical southern girl, born and raised on a sheep farm, love the outdoors and play rugby,'' she said.
''It's a pity there isn't a Miss Universe shearing challenge, because I'd probably clean up.
''People wishing to follow her progress could ''like'' her on Facebook, and would also have a chance to text-vote for her from September 5, with public voting comprising 50 per cent of candidates' final scores.
- Clutha Leader