Not since Snowy Lupton's Kiwi brought home the Melbourne Cup in 1983 has the town of Waverley buzzed with so much excitement.
On Saturday night human local lass Catherine Irving beat out all competition to be crowned Miss Earth New Zealand in Auckland.
The 19-year-old Massey University student will now travel to Manila, in the Philippines, in November to represent the country in the Miss Earth World Competition.
Miss Earth is an annual international pageant promoting environmental awareness and is one of the three largest in the world.
"It's certainly getting Waverley on the map," Miss Irving said of her success, although she is was hesitant to compare it with Kiwi's success.
"Well a lot of people have been saying that but the Luptons have been doing pretty well with their speed boat racing over the years so Waverley has always done well for its size."
The competition involved all the usual beauty pageant components such as swimsuit modelling, evening wear and the notorious random question.
"Well I was asked if there was one famous New Zealander I could talk to, who would it be? I said John Key because he's the one who has the most influence in New Zealand and is making the decisions. I'd ask him what he plans to do about a number of environmental issues like recycling and carbon emissions."
Studying towards a Bachelor of Communications she decided to enter the regional Miss Earth Wanganui pageant earlier this year for the experience she could gain for her coming career.
Her win in Wanganui gave her entry into the national pageant.
From what her father Sid Irving says the national winner was nearly a foregone conclusion when his daughter decided to get involved.
"She's the sort of kid that anything she tried to do she would try to be the best or there just wasn't any point in her doing it."
That does not mean everyone is left in her wake. For nearly three years before she left Waverley to attend university she taught a highly popular salsa dancing class with a roll of up to 40 students.
The youngest of seven children, Miss Irving has always been a well known member of the small community she returns to each weekend, her father said.
"There wasn't really any indication that she would win and I was a bunch of nerves when they were announcing it," Mr Irving said.
"Even now it's a wee bit surreal."
- Taranaki Daily News
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