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Danielle Hayes cried and hugged her fellow finalist as she was named New Zealand's Next Top Model last night.

The 19-year-old from Kawerau told viewers that "fireworks are going off in my head". She hugged runner-up Michaela Steenkamp and both young women wept.

"I'm over the moon, I'm speechless for once," Ms Hayes said.

After the show, Ms Hayes said she entered the competition only because a friend dared her to.

"The fact that I am here because of a dare and now I've come out on top just shows that any Maori girl can do this."

She hoped young Maori women were inspired by her achievement.

"I didn't expect this. I just knew that it was great to be there. Everybody else believed in me but not myself."

Ms Hayes was joined by a group of past contestants to watch the final show at Auckland's Langham Hotel.

She said she was looking forward to the next year.

"There's the whole world in front of me now. A year ago, my path was so different."

During the 10-minute interview, Ms Hayes received 33 congratulatory texts from friends.

The situation was entirely different for Ms Steenkamp, who told viewers that they had not seen the last of her.

"When I saw Danielle's face, my heart just dropped. I felt like I let myself down."

Ms Hayes started the competition struggling to walk in high heels. Now she has a modelling contract, meetings with New York fashion executives and a new car.

Last night's episode included flashbacks to previous photo shoots and fashion shows.

"We've got two beautiful finalists but there can only be one New Zealand's next top model," said one of the judges.

Twin Elza Jenkins was eliminated into third place. "I've had so much fun and I'm so happy. Thank you so much," she managed to get out between sobs.