Wahine heading for world pageant competition

By Stefan Dimitrof

A proud mana wahine and mother of five was recently crowned in the Ms Woman of the Universe NZ 2022 and is heading to Bulgaria later this year to compete in the international competition.

Jerrie-Lee Ngareta Hill (Ngāi Tama Wera ki Tūwharetoa) has faced challenges in her life head-on life with her first hurdle being a mother at the age of 16.

“I have always been told quite young and as soon as I became a mother that I ruined my life choosing to become a young mother and was told, I wasn't good enough, couldn't do that, it's impossible, I would fail'.”

Now a mother of five and recently separated from her partner, Hill faced the challenge of being a single parent and still competing in the competition.

“During my time as a mother, I gave up a lot of hobbies and interests to prioritise my responsibility, love and dedication as a mother. I did so much that I started to feel I had lost myself in the process.”

Hill reflected that there was more to life so, when the pageant came along, she took a chance at something different.

“I learned new skills, was surrounded by other like-minded and empowering women and, most importantly, I rediscovered myself.”

Hill said the most complex challenge of the pageant was being a single parent while keeping a regular health and fitness routine, organising babysitting and trying to attend all important pageant-related events.

“Ironically, they have also been my greatest inspiration to keep me driven throughout my pageant journey. So definitely a challenge and yet an energy source for my drive.”

Hill used her passion for acting, modelling and writing while celebrating her strong Māori heritage on the pageant stage.

“Sure there are the downfalls, such as the cost of competing in a national and international level pageant, time requirements and commitment.”

“But I left this competition feeling empowered, inspired and driven; I feel that the benefits completely outweigh the costs.”

Hill believes Māori and Pacifika are beautiful and talented people and think they should take a positive risk and give a pageants a go.

“If not for the empowerment aspect, the positive experiences gained, then certainly sharing and celebrating our proud Maori culture to the whole of New Zealand and the world.”