The second hit of meth at the age of 15 did not feel naughty. And every time she smoked after that seemed more and more normal. Her thoughts were not her own and her life was spent chasing a sense of belonging - only to run further away from it. On Saturday night, dressed to the nines, the now 21-year-old was given the crown and title of Miss Rotorua. A contrast to her previous life, she walked across the stage with pride, knowing how far she had come.
She was just 14 the first time she tried meth.
She spent years in a dark hole of loneliness, in a numb shell of herself as she pushed her family away, chasing a sense of belonging.
But on Saturday night, the world stood still and the loud noises became a murmur when Evarna Koia, 21, had a crown placed on her head after her name was called as the winner of Miss Rotorua 2019.
It was a completely different kind of silence to the one she lived in as she struggled with an addiction to meth as a teenager.
For a long time, Koia blamed the person who gave her the first hit but said she now took the ownership for her choices.
When she was 15 she was living with a friend and smoked meth for the second time.
#LIVE Miss Rotorua crowning ceremony. Congratulations to the new Miss Rotorua 2019 Evarna Koia of Ngāti Maniapoto.Posted by Te Ao on Saturday, 21 September 2019
The 21-year-old's hobbies are now around improving herself and creating memories with her whānau, a far cry from how she had previously filled her time.
"I was doing a lot of robberies . . . I guess in a way that was my hobby," she said.
Koia was sent to a youth prison, YJ North Manurewa youth prison because, among other charges, police and Child, Youth and Family (CYFs) were made aware she took meth.
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"I felt so betrayed . . . and I felt more triggered."
Her rebellious streak continued when she was released from prison and she began taking meth intravenously.
"It's scary . . . it wasn't drinking, you do meth," she said, and she was not alone among her peer group. Meth was everywhere, it was fun, and it was normal.
She went to the beach with a friend when she was still using and spoke about the greatness she saw in her friends and the greatness they were wasting.
"I saw their skills, strength and survival," she said.
Koia said many of her friends were involved in the substances and the rebellious choices, and were as stuck in the killer lifestyle as she was.
"There were plenty of times I would cry, be exhausted and be in the deepest hole," she said.
This was what helped her realise she needed to change, too, and begin on a difficult road of recovery.
"If anything, I was selfish and didn't know what I was doing to my family . . . I didn't see how much they were suffering," she said.
Koia said her aunty was her rock and she credited her supportive family for loving and accepting her.
"What are you doing with your life?" her aunt would say.
She now spends her time devoted to her passions which included Legacy - a self-empowerment programme for women - Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and her business qualification.
She said her qualification in business and project management was a great accomplishment and her greatest hobby.
She said she would never have thought she would have the courage to enter Miss Rotorua and she was proud of the courage she had worked hard for.