The new Miss New Zealand could be stripped of her freshly won title because she isn’t actually from New Zealand.
22-year-old Avianca Bohm, above, is South African, meaning her tiara could be taken from her and her involvement in Donald Trump’s Miss Universe pageant later this year is in doubt.
Not a lot of this actually seems to be Bohm’s fault, however. She was open about her nationality with organisers of the Miss New Zealand pageant, and event director Val Lott agreed with both Bohm and the judges that she could take part, yet would be ineligible to win.
Yet win she did, and Lott blames the judges for the baffling decision. She told the NZ Herald:
“It’s not embarrassing for the competition. It’s embarrassing for the [chief] judge, who should have taken on board what I said to him. It says that in their entry form. [Ms Bohm] and I both had a clear understanding that she couldn’t win. I said, you can enter it because it will still be a lot of confidence-boosting and great for your area.”
Yet Lott’s account was denied by Jack Yan, head judge for the pageant and publisher of fashion magazine Lucire. He told the Herald he didn’t want to get in a war of words with Lott, because:
“If I do that, it’s going to drag on with no end. I think we need to look to the future and see what the next right step is.”
Very sensible. And indeed, there does seem to be a possible solution: Bohm is currently trying to get her NZ citizenship fast-tracked by immigration officials. Ms Bohm said she was confident her citizenship would be go through in time for her to take part in Miss Universe:
“Everyone’s got contacts, and it’s one of the first things that we’re going to do and sort out. It’s just the paperwork. I mean New Zealand is such a multicultural country … It’s not an issue to me at all, I’m not even worried about that.”
Ms Bohm moved from Pretoria to Auckland aged 16, and had to learn English as her second language, having spoken only Afrikaans until then. She said she now considered herself a Kiwi.