A Whangarei girl with a debilitating lung disease has been selected as a finalist for Ms Aotearoa New Zealand.

Esther-Jordan Muriwai, 22, said she entered the pageant following a conversation she had with a friend of hers who has since died of cystic fibrosis.

"I wanted to break the barriers. I wanted to do things that I didn't think I would have been able to do," she said.

Ms Muriwai has bronchiectasis, which means tiny hairs in her lungs called cilia are damaged. Without cilia, her lungs are unable to clear mucus, which gives her an increased risk of a lung infection.


"It's sort of like living with the flu, except forever," she said.

Pageant director and reigning Miss Aotearoa NZ, Angela Cudd, said Miss Aotearoa NZ is a beauty pageant with a difference as it is based around culture.

There were three categories that applicants had to prove: their whakapapa for least three generations; be vouched for by five kaumatua; to be accepted by the Maori community. The pageant will be held in September.