Three contestants from last year's Miss Rotorua pageant are heading to the glitz and glam of Las Vegas to compete in an international pageant.

The Miss Continents International pageant is running from June 18 to June 23.

The areas of competition are evening gown, swimsuit and interview. The international contestants also have international costume competition.

(From left) Rotorua's Kahu Tapsell Bennett, Leonie Pargeter and Preslee Stevens, 16, will compete in the Miss Continents International pageant in Las Vegas. Photo/Supplied
(From left) Rotorua's Kahu Tapsell Bennett, Leonie Pargeter and Preslee Stevens, 16, will compete in the Miss Continents International pageant in Las Vegas. Photo/Supplied

Leonie Pargeter, who is competing in the 'Mrs' category says she is honoured to be invited to take part.


"I'm just a normal person, a wife, mother and I work, so when asked my reaction was a little disbelief, then I was elated to be invited to compete internationally."

She says she is looking forward to promoting the country, meeting and learning from people from all around the world.

Being able to experience something so different from her normal life is exciting, she says.

"I'm also really looking forward to being able to promote and live this pageant's moto, which is 'be your own kind of beautiful'."

Leonie Pargeter.
Leonie Pargeter.

Leonie says to prepare for the pageant she is working hard at keeping her eating clean and healthy.

"This is not always easy when you're a busy working mum. Also, I am exercising a lot - there is a swimwear section that I find quite daunting.

"There is also planning all my outfits to consider. Yikes!"

As well as a Givealittle page for the local contestants, she plans on running a few online raffles on her Facebook page.

Preslee Stevens.
Preslee Stevens.

"I'm beyond excited to experience another culture, to walk down the famous Las Vegas strip is not to be missed. Also, I'd love to see Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, with both of these being quite close."

Kahu Tapsell Bennett, who is entering the pageant under the 'Miss' category, says she is excited to take part.

"I have never been to Las Vegas before and now I get to travel there with two of my friends, while representing New Zealand. It's all very surreal.

"I get to explore decadent Las Vegas with some of the most beautiful women in the world, what's not to look forward to?"

She says pageants celebrate health - healthy living, looking after yourself and others, and being in a space of happiness and good self-confidence.

"My preparations have focused on those."

Kahu Tapsell Bennett. Photo/Supplied
Kahu Tapsell Bennett. Photo/Supplied

Preslee Stevens, 16, competing in the 'Miss Teen' category, says it feels pretty amazing.

The teen had not thought she would get an opportunity like this from doing Miss Rotorua - "so it's pretty full on".

"I'm definitely looking forward to going to a different country and experiencing their types of pageants."

She has to do a lot of fundraising for the international pageant and is glad her friends and family are happy to help out with that.

She will have a hangi fundraiser coming up and may do a couple of sausage sizzles at Bunnings, she says.

Local fashion designer and Miss Rotorua organiser Kharl WiRepa says it is "absolutely exciting" to see that three of the Miss Rotorua contestants had made it to Las Vegas.

"It is wonderful to see the efforts of the pageant organisation carrying on with these young ladies afterwards."

He says it is important for them to fundraise and get public support to help them do their best representing New Zealand overseas.

"The fantastic thing about these girls is they are already trained through the Miss Rotorua pageant, with a lot of industry training.

"I'm really confident with how they will perform overseas. They've got a great chance to take it out."

To donate go to