The Rotorua-based family of the country's most beautiful woman say they are very proud of Te Arawa beauty Talia Bennett.

Ms Bennett was crowned Miss Universe New Zealand this week after the original winner, South African-born Avianca Bohm, was stripped of her crown because she was not a New Zealand citizen.

Ms Bennett was runner-up in the competition and will now represent New Zealand at the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas in December.

Her aunt, Rotorua's Gillian Bennett, said the family was all "pretty stoked" with her success.


"It's been a long way to the title but we all think it's awesome. She has some fantastic dreams."

Ms Bennett said her niece was born in Takapuna, Auckland. Her father is Kim Bennett and her mother is part Italian.

"We're all looking forward to following her travels.

"At the moment we are trying to find something suitable from Te Arawa she can take with her as a gift."

Ms Bennett, 23, has brains as well as beauty.

She has a Bachelor of Property degree and is a qualified commercial property valuer. Her interests include yoga, health, nutrition, fashion and tennis.

She said she was looking forward to representing New Zealand in Las Vegas.

"I think it's unfortunate [that Ms Bohm was stripped of her crown] but at the end of the day rules are rules. We want the best girl to step forward," Ms Bennett said.

"So it is unfortunate on her behalf but I'm more than happy to step forward," . she said.

She is the third woman with strong Rotorua or Te Arawa connections to win the national title.

Rotorua district councillor Maureen Waaka (nee Kingi) won the title in 1962 and Linda Edward (nee Ritchie) was crowned Miss New Zealand in 1971.

Mrs Waaka told The Daily Post Ms Bennett had inherited her sophistication and beauty through her family.

"I saw her on television and she is a lovely looking girl who is very well spoken. The Bennetts have a long history here and on the coast."

Mrs Waaka said she wished her all the best for the Miss Universe pageant.

Additional reporting APNZ