Controversial Miss Universe New Zealand boss Val Lott has announced she's retiring - leading a jubilant Avianca Bohm to declare: "I am still Miss New Zealand."
Lott stripped the South African-born winner of her sash this week after the Minister of Internal Affairs denied her fast-tracked citizenship application.
Runner-up Talia Bennett was handed the crown, but last night Bohm said it remained hers.
"I have not stepped down. Val just decided by herself," she said from her home in South Africa.
Bohm welcomed Lott's decision to retire.
"She handled the situation very unprofessionally," she said.
Lott, who suffered a minor stroke last week, said she wanted a "more peaceful" life.
"The Avianca business has put me off. I want to enjoy time with my husband. I'll wear my own tiara," she said.
"It's a good time, 25 years is a good innings. I will miss it."
Lott hoped to remain involved through judging or helping out.
Bohm, who had extended her South African trip until the end of the month, said she might enter Miss World - the rival franchise- next year.By Celeste Gorrell Anstiss @Cagorrell Email Celeste