Community: In Conversation with Miss Auckland Finalist Marie-Therese Pendy

Emelia Masari had the privilege of talking to Marie-Therese Pendy on her journey as a Miss Auckland finalist.

Tell me a bit about yourself, what are your passions?

My name is Marie-Therese Pendy. I was born in Zimbabwe and immigrated to New Zealand 16 years ago. I am currently studying a Master of Public Health and I am loving it! My passions include dancing, yoga and being outdoors—hiking, walking, running, and generally doing anything out in the sun.

Tell me more about the Miss Auckland pageant?

The Miss Auckland Pageant is on Saturday August 4th at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna. Miss Auckland is centred around “beauty with a purpose”, which involves putting yourself out there in the community and raising money for Youthline NZ. For me personally, competing in Miss Auckland is more than the superficial beauty on the outside. It is about the drive, the ambition, and the empowerment of all the women competing.

What are the stereotypes usually associated with people that take part in pageants and how are you breaking them?

The usual stereotypes associated with beauty pageants is that the women are good looking and are idolised for their looks and not much else. Miss Auckland tries to bring to the forefront that a main aspect of pageantry is charity. The contestants have to raise money, and contribute something meaningful to the communities they belong to. Secondly, many of the women are bright, well educated and empowered women, who are so much more than their beauty. For example, there are lawyers, finance, and medical professionals who have competed in Miss Auckland over the years.

How has certain aspects of your life shaped you to make you a better role model?

Immigrating from Zimbabwe to New Zealand has shaped me in many ways to be a better role model for other immigrants from low income countries. Zimbabwe is usually associated with corruption and lack of opportunity. However, I have not let that define me. I have had to work hard and make the most of all the opportunities given to me, because I know how many women do not have access to these same opportunities. Hopefully, through everything I have achieved (a degree, an internship, and competing in Miss Auckland), other migrants and refugees can see that anything is possible as long as you have dedication and ambition.

What have you learnt during your journey as a finalist in Miss Auckland, and what has been the most interesting part?

I have learnt how to put myself out there and how to approach people. It is not easy seeking sponsorship and asking people for money or products to donate. As a naturally introverted person this has been really challenging in the past, but through Miss Auckland I have gained valuable experience, as you have no choice but to approach people and ask. The most interesting part has been that when you put yourself out there and ask—people generally say yes. I have a corporate sponsor covering all my competing costs, my dress was sponsored, and I have two raffles where companies have generously donated.

What do you hope people take-away from your journey?

You just need to take the leap and put yourself out there, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If it scares you that is good, because you don’t know what will come out of it. I never thought I would be sponsored by a worldwide fitness company, or emailing CEOs of national health organisations and organising events.  

If you could have any superpower you want, what would it be and why?

To be able to fly. Majority of my family all immigrated out of Zimbabwe to all parts of the world. It would be amazing to see my family more than once every 5-10 years. And how great would it be to avoid all the traffic in Auckland?!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Firstly, I would like to say a huge thank you to my family and everyone supporting me from all parts of the world, it’s been truly amazing. Secondly, a huge shout out to my sponsor Josef Rakich Fitness and NZ Bridal and Ball for providing my evening gown.

If you would like to follow me on my journey, follow my official Facebook page: “Marie-Therese Pendy — Miss Auckland 2018 Finalist”.