A Whangarei teenager will rub shoulders with the world's best at an international beauty pageant in Thailand later this year.
Myo Ann Smith, 15, won the Miss Teen Face of Beauty International New Zealand 2012 in Auckland last month.
The event was organised by Mila Manuel, chief executive of Miss Teen NZ, who spotted Myo at a Christmas party in Whangarei last year and encouraged her to participate. It was her first experience but she beat 14 other contestants from around the country.
The win came as a shock but the Bream Bay College student said it was an amazing feeling. "I had an open mind about the end result and thought all the contestants were simply amazing and all had a very good chance. I felt we all had something special in our own way to offer," Myo said.
She said the event was challenging in that the other contestants were not only pretty but bright and intelligent.
But the Miss Teen Face of Beauty International competition in Thailand would be a different kettle of fish, Myo said.
"To rate my chances in Thailand is a difficult question as I haven't seen or met any of the other contestants, but once again I'll give it my best shot, I'll be back into my training regime soon to prep."
Even after her achievement on the stage, she wants to become a medical practitioner rather than a model. Joining the pageant has taught her to overcome shyness and she said she had gained much-needed self confidence.
"I've made so many new friends and gained a lot of knowledge from the experiences I have journeyed through, this however, will be one I will never forget."
Her parents Juvy and Roger Smith will accompany her to the Thailand event, which runs from December 11 to 22.
"It was her first time ever and we were blown away by the fact that she had so much talent," Mrs Smith said.