2009 Vodafone Miss Hibiscus Merewalesi Nailatikau is feeling relieved after the hectic week-long Hibiscus Festival, however at the back of her mind she feels that an even bigger challenge looms.
Nailatikau will represent Fiji at the South Pacific pageant in November. Sixteen countries will be represented in the pageant to be hosted by Fiji for the very first time.
Nailatikau said she had a “quiet night” after the crowning ceremony at Albert Park Saturday night.
“I’m feeling relieved and relaxed and I’m happy to spend more time at home with my family,” Nailatikau said.
“The week was hectic and it was difficult to get the time out to spend with my loved one. I’m happy to get that opportunity today and I’m happy to have won the crown for FNPF (Fiji National Provident Fund).
“I’m going to miss my fellow contestants because we spent a lot of time together. I’m sure that we’re going to get together and able to have a meeting sometime this week.
“Now I’m sitting down recuperating and thinking about the South Pacific pageant that is coming up very soon.
“I have been told that I have a very good team who is eager to work with me and support me in my preparation. I’m looking at the positive aspect - I want to do my very best for Fiji.”
The former journalist, who was the last contestant to join the Hibiscus pageant, said that besides the glamour of participating she was also challenged by the expectations.
“Getting used to the change in being under the public scrutiny was a big challenge for me - the hours spent doing my hair, make up and wardrobe.
“By nature I’m a very low key kind of person and I’m mostly in pants and flats because I don’t wear high heels.
“I’ve been getting used to the sensation of numbness on my toes for a week from wearing high heel which I’m not used to.
“I’ve been with the contestants for a little over a month and I was the last contestant to join. As Miss FNPF I can say that I was the 20th and out of the 19 contestants that had already signed up it was difficult because I didn’t know what to expect being the last one in. I was the new girl in the group and since then we’ve been together and we were helping each other a lot in a very supportive way.”
The 24-year-old is urging all young people who are willing to do something good for the community to join the charity pageant.