Five years ago, Kirtika Walia’s husband drowned while swimming under a waterfall in Australia.
It was the lowest point of her life. After a period of immense grief, Kirtika moved to Hawke’s Bay, got into hospitality, and started looking for hobbies that could help her shake off the pain.
By chance, she decided to enter a beauty pageant. Mrs and Ms Aotearoa NZ 2023. It’s a beauty pageant for women aiming to build self-confidence and women’s empowerment.
“I am so thrilled to have the incredible honour of winning the prestigious title of Ms Aotearoa NZ which also meant I was crowned Ms Earth New Zealand 2023,” Kirtika said.
While the Ms Aoreroa NZ 2023 title is a national win, the Ms Earth New Zealand 2023 title means Kitika will be representing New Zealand on the international stage next year.
“This victory not only fills me with immense pride but also presents a unique opportunity to showcase the incredible talent, determination, and passion that our region cultivates,” she said.
“As someone who deeply values environmental conservation and community engagement, I am committed to using this platform to promote eco-awareness and positive change within our local environment.”
Kirtika moved to Hawke’s Bay four years ago and says she loves the people and the weather. “It just feels like home to me,” she said.
The beauty pageant was held in August at Auckland’s Mangere Arts Centre.
“Although it’s called a beauty pageant, to me it was more about empowering women. Having the title of ‘Ms’, it made me eligible to enter, and it made me realise that we don’t all fit in a box.
“I hope my journey can serve as a source of motivation, demonstrating that with dedication and support, the impossible becomes achievable.”
One of the criteria for the pageant was to make a presentation on how to save the earth.
“I focused on plastic and recycling. Every little bit each of us does makes a difference.”
Kirtika, 30, is the duty manager at K Kitchen and runs a smoothie cart. She also finds time to run mindful journaling workshops.
She says she loves learning and reading books and also hopes to become more involved in the community.
“I’m looking into getting involved with Big Brother / Big Sister. I would love to help people.”
She is excited about representing New Zealand in next year’s world competition.
“The decision on where it will be held is still up in the air but it will either be Los Angeles, India or Sri Lanka,” Kirtika said.
“I never thought in my life that I would even enter a pageant like this let alone win such an amazing title. I hope my journey inspires other women to chase their dreams relentlessly, regardless of the challenges they face.
“It is my sincere hope that my journey can serve as a source of motivation, demonstrating that with dedication and support, the impossible becomes achievable.”
- Linda Hall is a Hastings-based assistant editor for Hawke’s Bay Today, and has 30 years of experience in newsrooms. She writes regularly on arts and entertainment, lifestyle and hospitality, and pens a column.