Kiwi beauty queen Deborah Lambie has divided the nation following her Haka performance at this year's Miss World contest.

Lambie, 24, defended her act at the event held in China saying she is proud of the dance she learned at Whitireia Performance Centre in Wellington.

As Kiwis take to social media to either abhor or commend the performance, we take a look back at five times beauty pageants were put in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

READ MORE: MISS WORLD NZ PROUD OF HAKA

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1. Miss California's gay marriage uproar

Carrie Prejean's response to a same-sex marriage question is said to have cost her the crown. Photo / Getty
Carrie Prejean's response to a same-sex marriage question is said to have cost her the crown. Photo / Getty

In 2009, Miss California Carrie Prejean, a US beauty pageant hopeful, sparked controversy with her comments about gay marriage - and attracted the wrath of celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton.

Prejean, 21 at the time, was picked as a favourite to win the competition until her response to a question from Hilton: "Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalise same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit. Why or why not?"

Prejean answered: "Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage."

She continued: "And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman.

"No offence to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be - between a man and a woman. Thank you very much."

Hilton quickly called out Prejean on his blog, calling her a "dumb b**ch" as speculation followed that her response cost her the crown.

2. Miss Teen USA's botched answer goes viral

When asked why one-fifth of Americans are unable to locate the United States on a map, Miss South Carolina gave a rambling, incoherent response, referring to South Africa and Iraq in the 2007 contest:

"I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps, and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like, such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the US should help the US, uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our children."

Despite what has since been referred to as one of the stupidest answers in pageant history, Caitlin Upton still secured third runner up in the competition.

3. Miss New Zealand competes as Nigerian woman faces death

Rachel Huljich faced mounting calls to boycott the 2002 event. Photo / Getty
Rachel Huljich faced mounting calls to boycott the 2002 event. Photo / Getty

In 2002, Miss New Zealand Rachel Huljich caused an uproar when she chose to compete in the Miss World pageant in Nigeria as a 31-year-old woman faced death by stoning for having a child out of wedlock.

Beauty queens from France, Belgium, Norway, Ivory Coast, Switzerland and Kenya chose to boycott the competition. Even Prime Minister Helen Clark waded into the debate saying it was not a "good look" for Huljich to attend.

4. Miss Teen Louisiana caught with pot

Lindsey Evans was stripped of her crown after being arrested. Photo / Getty
Lindsey Evans was stripped of her crown after being arrested. Photo / Getty

In 2008, Miss Teen Louisiana Lindsey Evans, 18, lost her crown when she was arrested after she skipped out on a bill with her pals, but left her purse - and a bag of pot.

5. Bikini ban to avoid offending Muslims

Megan Young from the Philippines was crowned Miss World in 2013. Photo / Getty
Megan Young from the Philippines was crowned Miss World in 2013. Photo / Getty

Miss World 2013 contestants skipped out on bikinis in a bid to avoid causing offence in Muslim-majority Indonesia where the event was held.

The beach fashion section instead featured 137 contestants sporting more conservative attire, such as traditional sarongs.

READ MORE: BIKINI CONTEST SCRAPPED FROM MISS WORLD

- nzherald.co.nz