Miss World NZ beauty starts new group

By Hannah Norton

Facing a lung transplant in 2011, Esther-Jordan Muriwai decided to compile a bucket list.

At the top of the list was setting up a national foundation for the rare lung disease that she has lived with most of her life. A close runner-up was to enter a beauty pageant.

Two years later, the Whangarei 22-year-old has achieved both.

She has bronchiectasis - which she nicknames "the bronx" - a crippling respiratory condition that is the aftermath of a childhood bout of whooping cough. Spending much of her childhood in Whangarei Hospital's children's ward, it was "practically (her) second home".

In 2011, she had a particularly bad year with her bronchiectasis. "I lost everything including my health and my independence," she said.

"But it was a great way to rediscover myself - I decided I didn't want my life to just be about medications."

Last year, she entered the Miss Aoteroa Pageant, placing runner-up. It was something she had wanted to do with best friend Trish, who sadly passed away as a result of her cystic fibrosis beforehand.

This year, she enquired about Miss World NZ, and was selected as an official contestant who will be vying for the crown at an event on April 27.

Every weekend she buses down to Auckland for the pageant, attending events such as catwalk training, television presenting classes and photoshoots, all while wearing her porta-cath - an implanted device that has a catheter connecting the port to a vein.

She doesn't bother trying to hide the device, which sits on her chest. "I'm not bothered - they [the other girls and pageant organisers] get to see me for me."

Entering Miss World has also provided a fast-track for Esther to get started on one of her main goals - creating the Northland Bronchiectasis Support Group.

As part of her role as a candidate for the national Miss World NZ pageant, Esther must hold a fundraising event for the 'Beauty with A Mission' section.

"We get to pick the charity and I wanted to do something that was close to my heart."

So, often from a hospital bed, she went about forming the support group, which had its first meeting in Kamo on February 1.

"I think if only we'd [her family] had a place we could go to ... for things like advice about treatment options. Now we can offer that."

"If anyone needs anything - we can help. We can go through things like the referral process."

Miss Muriwai also enlisted the help and support of Kaitaia GP Lance O'Sullivan.

"In the Far North there's no foundation, no support group - so Lance travelled down to talk to me."

"Ever since getting him on board everything has been rolling."

- Northern Advocate

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