Morgan Hands' dive into the pageant world was due to a sneaky friend secretly entering her into a beauty competition.
The covert feat has paid off as Morgan was among the final 12 national contestants who were prejudged at the Miss World NZ competition at the weekend, but won't find out who wears the crown until the official final pageant night on May 26.
Morgan is pretty zen about the whole thing.
"People ask 'why are you doing it?' and I'm thinking 'what does it matter', if nothing comes of it in two years no one will even remember it. All other aspects of my life are going pretty well. It's a extra add-on to my life.
"It's set me up for some cool community and charity opportunities as well."
Pageant life has surprised Morgan. She's discovered that it is not all lipstick and evening gowns. There are opportunities to learn media and interview training, presenting, gaining sponsorship, charity work and raising money.
"It is based on charity and community work. This is a huge part of the judging. Back in the day it was a little surface level and I didn't want to be put into that category but once I heard there were these opportunities I thought 'this could be awesome'."
Morgan lived in Waihī until the age of five before moving to Thames and completed school at Parawai School and Thames High. She then studied at Otago University for four years, gaining a double degree — a bachelor of arts and bachelor of commence with a triple major.
Morgan is an academic and self confessed nerd.
"The academic side of me is really drawn to the charity work and the ability to help those who may not been given the best opportunity in society. I'm keen on equality for everyone who has talent, everyone should have equal opportunity to achieve. I'm trying to use my privilege to even the playing field."
Morgan competed in the 2018 Miss Auckland pageant in August to qualify for Miss World New Zealand. She was awarded three titles — best in evening gown, best on camera and was named Youthline spokeswoman. Morgan felt honoured to get this title.
The pre-judging at the weekend at Beachlands consisted of walks in evening gown, cocktail dress, national costume and swimwear outfit.
They were also required to perform a one and a half minute talent piece — Morgan performed ballet. She has been a Dance Education Centre ballet student for years.
Finally, there was a seven minute individual interview with the judges where the contestants discussed their "beauty with a purpose" efforts throughout the campaign.
Morgan has chosen the Brave charity, which raises awareness about sexual violence affecting young people.
Morgan works at Vodafone in Auckland as a media specialist. She describes her experience in the beauty pageant world as a "surprising match".
"It's definitely a surprise considering I'm off a farm family farm in Waihī and I have always been incredibly athletic ... I'm pretty chilled out, no friend would ever describe me as glam or high maintenance. I'm not hard work."