The Diary: Teen's crowning causes backlash

TVNZ finally finds a political editor, Prime's ad is nauseating and it's hooray for Henry.

Rachel Hunter and her co-judges selected Tonika Walters, 16, as the winner of Miss World Fiji. Photo / Supplied
Rachel Hunter and her co-judges selected Tonika Walters, 16, as the winner of Miss World Fiji. Photo / Supplied

Rachel Hunter, 42, was one of the judges at the Miss World Fiji competition at the weekend where 16-year-old schoolgirl Torika Watters - a student at International School Nadi and the youngest contestant in the pageant - was crowned the winner. The teenager was selected as the delegate to represent Fiji at the Miss World pageant in Mongolia in August.

Watters is the same age as Hunter was when she was scouted on Takapuna beach and thrust into the spotlight as the Tip-Top girl. "She is a fantastic young lady who is very confident and has the right attitude to go far," Hunter told FijiLive.

But how far? Not to the international Miss World competition, says Rose Foulger, who runs the Miss World New Zealand pageant through her company, the New Zealand Asia Pacific Trust.

Foulger says Watters' selection is a breach of the Miss World regulation rules, which state delegates must be aged between 17 and 24.

"The competition has strict rules. Every franchise has a contract with the organisation and knows the rules. Unless the girl turns 17 before the international Miss World competition she would not be eligible to enter."

Watters, now dubbed the "baby queen" in her country, told the Fiji Times that age shouldn't matter in a pageant.

The Miss World final in Mongolia is four months away and Watters won't turn 17 until next year, said Miss World Fiji franchise holder Andhy Blake.

The former Christchurch-based stylist told The Diary he received special dispensation from Miss World organisers to allow Watters into the competition "because she has a powerful message to share".

Blake said Watters suffered from depression two years ago after her father committed suicide and she was allowed into the pageant underage because she used mental health as her platform.

"If you have a powerful story that will impact on society, and as long as you are transparent and show good will and you reflect beauty with a purpose, then it's okay," he said.

Blake said Miss Armenia is also 16 years old and, like Watters, was allowed to enter the competition after making a special request. But Anna Arakelyan, who was crowned Miss Armenia last week, is 20 - according to media reports.

Hunter judged the competition alongside Fear Factor USA grand champion Mark Hewlett and local Fijian judges Hupfeld Hoerder, Zelda Thomas Paige and Carl Probert.

MEDIA MOVERS AND CRINGE-MAKERS

The overdue announcement last week that TVNZ has named a political editor after four months languishing without one prompts the question: who will sit in the Breakfast seat when Corin Dann departs next month?

Saturday Breakfast host Rawdon Christie is an obvious choice, but not our bet. His British diction isn't Kiwi enough for our parochial morning tastebuds. Bookies are picking Tim Wilson and our money is on him. He returned from the US and has been extending his skill set at TVNZ in marketing and social media.

A better bet may be to shake up the troubled Breakfast programme completely. The embattled show has had mixed reviews over the past year and host Petra Bagust has received a barrage of criticism from viewers who have failed to connect with her.

If the Breakfast couch was to be reupholstered, so to speak, The Diary predicts Wilson, with his biting wit and clever repartee, could be matched with Heather du Plessis-Allan, who would bring youthful enthusiasm and a sharp reporting style.

Whether Mrs Soper would want to relocate from Wellington is a question she'd need to put to her husband, Barry, who has been haunting the Beehive as a political journalist for years.

TVNZ tempted Dann back to the gallery. He had spent nearly six years there as a radio journalist. "He always said he'd never do it," an insider told The Diary. "But the bosses were desperate for someone to fill the [political editor] role so they probably offered him big money."

Also desperate must be Prime News, which has produced a cringeworthy promotional television advertisement announcing Charlotte Bellis' arrival.

The former TVNZ reporter has moved to Sky TV, makers of Prime News. She debuted on the weekend as anchor and will also report and produce pieces for Sky News.

Her boss Alistair Wilkinson, a former TV3 reporter who runs the Sky New Zealand newsroom, also appears in the nauseating plug.

GAFFES AND GONADS

Britain's Guardian newspaper picked up comments in the Weekend Herald made by Sir Graham Henry at a fundraising event last week in which he described the England rugby team as "a shambles" who should "self-destruct and start again".

As a guest, The Diary can attest the former All Black coach (right) said a lot in jest. But his plaudits for his team were genuine. He credited Richie McCaw as "the reason we won". While then England rugby coach Martin Johnson "had a lot of pricks to deal with", Henry said, McCaw "played on one leg, a big heart and bigger balls".

Heart-throb Conrad Smith was selected, he quipped, "otherwise I wouldn't have had a marriage".

Henry, who has seemingly embraced his recent celebrity role with a dry sense of humour, opened up the chequebook, too. He splurged $17,500 at the event's charity auction on a two-week luxury holiday.

Former Tongan rugby coach Phil Kingsley Jones played stand-up comedian with an old-fashioned routine riddled with sexist and racist barbs more at home on a Benny Hill set. A joke about gay men in Ponsonby prompted MC John Campbell to chortle: "I can't believe your vanity that you'd think a gay guy would want to r**t you! There's not a f***ing chance, mate."

ADAM HELPS HIS EVES

Since our news last week that rugby star Adam Thomson was fundraising for Otago women's rugby by auctioning his own rugby ball signed by the All Blacks (it reached a winning bid of $3240), we can reveal he's donated more goodies for the cause.

Thomson has put a pair of Highlanders shorts and a shirt on Trade Me to raise more money to resuscitate the team. The auction closes Friday. But if rugby garb doesn't entice, you can make a donation at otagospiritfundraising.tumblr.com.

- NZ Herald

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