Northland beauty wins Miss New Zealand 2020

By Te Ao - Māori News

Sydney Batters, a nursing student from the Northland town of Kaeo, has been crowned Miss New Zealand 2020.

The 19-year-old, of Ngāpuhi, stole the hearts of judges after 10 months of rehearsals, personal development workshops and other pageantry training leading up to the final coronation last night.

“I think winning this title was more me winning back what I’ve put into this pageant for the last 10 months, all the hard work, all the effort. Same with all the other girls though, all of our hard work, our achievements that we’ve made.”

Sydney and her whānau at the coronation / Source: File

Due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown the coronation had to be postponed from June to October. Last night a crowning ceremony took place attended by family members of contestants. Sydney’s mum Tania Grace, her nanna Faye Sherman and partner Ezekiel Raui were there in person, while the rest of her whānau and friends watched via Livestream.

“It was really nice to know my family were watching from home and I knew that they were going to be really proud of me as well,” says Sydney.

When she was announced as the winner, her mum and nanna were left in tears.

“To actually hear them announce her win was... I know I screamed and my live feed told me to shush because they couldn't hear. Just unbelievably proud of her,” says Tania.

“I've always been proud of her,” says Faye.

Sydney says her favourite part of the pageant was becoming close friends with the other finalists and seeing each other become more confident. She is in her first year studying to become a nurse at Auckland University of Technology.

“Being a mental health nurse is something that I resonate with because of personal experience. I just want to help people who are going through hardship or facing their own challenges and to make sure that they can be the best versions of themselves that they can be and also the happiest version of themselves,” says Sydney.

No matter how far she goes, Sydney says she will never forget where she's from, Kaeo.

“We’re all just one big whānau up there. We all know each other and we’re all really close with each other and we’re 10 minutes away from about nine different beaches so it’s really tropical. It’s such a beautiful place. I love that I’m from up north and I represent that everywhere I go.”

Sydney Batters Miss New Zealand 2020 / Source: File

As Miss New Zealand she hopes to inspire others.

“I want to show that to young people, even if you come from a small town, even if you come from a rural or poor area, that can't stop you from doing bigger and better things.”

As part of the competition, the finalists were judged on interview, final question, fitness, beachwear, national costume, cocktail-wear and evening gown.

The most important section was Beauty with a Vision, raising funds for the chosen charity Brave. Brave was founded by Miss World New Zealand 2018 Jessica Tyson and works towards helping young people affected by sexual violence.

“Brave is something that I resonate deeply with. I love the message behind it and I love the work that Jess has done," says Sydney.  

Sydney Batters Miss New Zealand 2020 / Source: File

All together contestants raised about $6000 to go towards helping Brave facilitators travel to schools and community groups around Aotearoa to teach rangatahi about sexual violence, consent and healthy relationships.

"It was quite hard to fundraise with Covid making it very limited for people to be able to donate as much money as they could if they were working. Because of lockdown, everyone was at home or people were or made redundant and couldn't work, says Sydney.

"But I think that flipping the situation around was quite good because the fundraising was more about promoting Brave as opposed to just making money for a charity."

Sydney will next represent New Zealand at Miss International in Tokyo, Japan next year.

Miss New Zealand 2020 top five winners:

  1. Winner of Miss New Zealand 2020 is Sydney Batters to represent NZ at Miss International
  2. First Runner Up of MIss NZ 2020 is Arielle Keil to represent NZ at Miss Intercontinental
  3. Second Runner Up is Emma Wilding to represent NZ at Miss Tourism International
  4. Third Runner up is Tam Feroz to represent NZ at Miss Charm International
  5. Fourth Runner Up is Chloe Amy to represent NZ at Miss Crystal Angel International