Miss Universe NZ Tania Dawson believes she will be a crowd favourite at the 66th Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines because she is part-Filipino.

But the 23-year-old media teacher from Auckland also thinks she has what it takes to bring home the crown.

Dawson goes head-to-head with contestants from around the world to succeed 2015 Filipino winner Pia Wurtzbach at the competition slated for January 30 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

"Being of Filipino heritage, my mum's Filipino, I think people in the Philippines will be able to relate a bit more than the other contestants," Dawson said.


"But in terms of judging, it's not about your popularity or your ethnicity, but it's about what's inside."

She will leave for the Philippines early next week, where she will catch up with family ahead of the contest.

Revealing details of the national costumes she will be wearing, Dawson said the outfits will have Maori influence and aimed at bringing out the "clean and green" New Zealand vibe.

"We've got this beautiful cape that's green and it's got koru designs on it, and we also have a dress that's made of flex," she said.

"We have created a tiki in the front which is also made out of korus."

Dawson said she will also be taking on stage a Maori weapon, which had been gifted to her by some students in Takanini.

"The students had carved it and painted it themselves, so I will be taking that with me," she said.

Dawson was crowned Miss Universe NZ in September after the winning the judges' hearts.
From Papakura, she attended Rosehill College in South Auckland and grew up in a farm.


The judging panel included singer Frankie Stevens, body confidence ambassador Areena Deshpande, make-up artist Samala Robinson, lifestyle coach Evana Patterson and PR personality Anna Jobsz.

Dawson said her Filipino background played a big role in taking part.

"Winning a pageant is considered a huge family honour for Filipinos, and my mother had been asking me to take part for years," she said.

Dawson considered American singer Beyoncé Knowles to be her biggest idol and role model.

"Beyonce worked from a very young age, going through different stages of her career just trying hard and working hard to get to where she is now," she said.

"That hard work and her determination is what I have always admired."

Dawson said the opportunities that she received since winning the title had been "unexpected and huge".

Her message to women is to step out of their comfort zone.

"Try things out and just give things a go, and make opportunities for yourselves," Dawson said.

The last and only time a New Zealander won the coveted International Miss Universe title was in 1983 by Lorraine Downes.

Other successful Kiwi contestants include Delyse Nottle, who was second runner-up in 1980, and Lisa Maree de Montalk, placed in the top 10 in 1992.