A New Zealand teen beauty queen who lost her crown for dyeing her blonde hair brown has received a flood of support - mainly from the United States, the home of beauty pageants.

Olivia O'Neil, 15, lost her Miss Wanganui title - which she won with blonde streaks in her hair - after she dyed her hair dark and posted a photo on Facebook.

Pageant organiser Barbara Osborne, who has since left the organisation, wrote on Olivia's page, "Please tell me that's a wig", and told her she would not go far.

Olivia's story has circulated around the world online, and many people have written in to support Olivia, especially from the United States.

"I say Olivia should be commended for being a strong young woman who backs up her beliefs and convictions," wrote Regina Rochelle, from Memphis.

"That makes a better role model than someone who sits around looking pretty for no reason at all. How dare that woman tell her she won't go far in life. With determination like Olivia's I expect her to go farther than that bitter old hag ever has!"

Media who have picked up on the story include the Chicago Tribune, which wrote: "Blondes have more fun and, apparently, get to keep their pageant titles."

Roberta Ferrier, from Oregon, wrote into nzherald.co.nz to pass on a message to Olivia.

"Olivia O'Neil seems to be a very intelligent, marvellous young woman. I am proud of her logic and actions. She will indeed go very far in this world," she said.

Becca Krebs warned that it wasn't just about looks - it was a civil rights issue. "Do not trivialise it simply because the subject is a beauty pageant. Next time it might be you getting fired because you violated unknown 'expectations of appearance' at your place of employment."

Jennifer Stewart also offered her support.

"What a lovely girl, brunette or blonde! This is what you call strength of character. She has what it takes and beauty is perhaps the least significant part of all she has to offer," she said.

"Ask yourself if her story isn't true, what did she have to gain in giving back the crown? They didn't seem to have a problem with her 'attitude' until her hair colour changed. Bravo, baby! I LOVE your attitude! Good luck in all you do!"

Some, however, said Olivia looked better blonde.

"The girl should lose the crown. She is quite 'Plain Jane' looking in dark brown hair and that was not as she presented herself to the pageant. She also needs to get a stiffer upper lip when it comes to taking a redress," said Sam Oldershaw.