The battle is on for the Miss Universe New Zealand 2017 crown.

Twenty of New Zealand's most beautiful women are taking part in the Grand Final of the event, being held at the SkyCity Theatre; with all the action being livestreamed here.

This year's event is the fourth since a management change and restructure of the Miss Universe New Zealand competition; changes included the removal of a swimwear section, the introduction of a retreat for the Top 20 and altering the voting structure to see winners determined both by a judging panel and a public vote.

The judging panel in 2017 comprises Teuila Blakely, Frankie Stevens, Samala Robinson, Anna Jobsz, Evana Patterson, and Areena Deshpande.

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Tonight's action includes the Pacific Fusion fashion parade, which will see finalists wearing clothes designed by Sewtec students. During an evening wear parade they will then wear designs by international couturier Sidney Eculla, who has flown in especially for the event.

The 20 finalists come from all over the country, and were selected after they attended workshops and seminars held in May.

In July, they flew to Phuket, Thailand, on an international retreat, staying at the Thavorn Beach Village Resort & Spa, where they shot a swimwear calendar.

The finalists also raised funds for Variety, the Children's Charity, as part of their Entrepreneurial Challenge, helping deserving Kiwi kids; as well as SCOT Foundation, helping disadvantaged children in the Philippines.

To date, Miss Universe has donated over $125,000 to Variety, the Children's Charity.

The winner of the Challenge gets immunity when the Top 20 become the Top 10 later tonight.

Tania Dawson was crowned winner of Miss Universe New Zealand in 2016.

>> www.nextmissnz.com