The winner of the Miss Rotorua pageant will have to compete in the Mrs section of an international pageant in Las Vegas.

Nehsha Moynihan has been married since 2013, which not all of the five Miss Rotorua judges were aware of.

There was no requirement for Miss Rotorua entrants to be unmarried.

Anne Batley Burton said she did not know Moynihan's marital status when judging the event.


"They should've looked into that more carefully," she told the Rotorua Daily Post.

"It does seem that it's not really right. The organisers surely would've known that."

The winner of the Rotorua crown was originally supposed to compete in the Miss International Regency competition next year.

Married women would not be able to compete in the Miss Regency International contest, according to its website, but there is also a Mrs Regency International competition.

Miss Rotorua was Moynihan's first pageant, she said, although she had been modelling for three or four years.

Nehsha Moynihan, with fellow brides, competing in the Bride of the Year competition in 2014. Photo/File
Nehsha Moynihan, with fellow brides, competing in the Bride of the Year competition in 2014. Photo/File

She works as a solicitor while modelling part-time.

She modelled in last year's New Zealand Fashion Week for local designer Kharl WiRepa, who also organised the pageant, and featured in this month's British Vogue.

Batley Burton said there were several exceptional young ladies in the competition, although Moynihan stood out as particularly smart.

"She was an intelligent young woman having got a law degree. There were a lot of girls who were good, particularly the runner-up.

"We weren't holding judging around looks."

Moynihan said she wanted to compete to challenge herself.

"It challenged me in more ways than I thought.

"I hoped to win, definitely, because I knew it was a good opportunity."

WiRepa told the Rotorua Daily Post after the contest all the contestants were of a high calibre.

"I am very proud of Nehsha and it's very exciting for her. She earned her crown and I am excited for her and the journey she's about to go on for the people."

Miss Teen Rotorua, Miss Te Arawa (for best cultural representative) and Mrs Rotorua were also announced on Saturday night.

Musician, model and last year's Matariki Star Search winner Promise Royal was crowned Miss Teen Rotorua, former Bachelor contestant Mariana Morrison was Miss Te Arawa and Stevie Jean Gear Mrs Rotorua.

Moynihan was unsure whether she would want to model fulltime in the future, because her work as a lawyer was important to her.

She became interested in law after learning at secondary school that the land Rotorua Airport was built on belonged to her own iwi, she said.

"It got me really passionate about the injustice that happens to all people."

The Miss Rotorua contestants raised $60,000 between them for local charities such as Love Soup and Rotorua SPCA.

WiRepa could not be reached for comment yesterday.