Pageant journey airing on screen

Miss Rotorua contest on TVNZ’S Gowns and Geysers

Shauni James





There’s not long to go until triumphs, transformations, trials and tribulations from Miss Rotorua 2021 will be aired on television, giving people a “VIP backstage pass” to the pageant. The pageant will feature in a new bilingual reality series called Gowns and Geysers by Te Noni Productions. It will air on January 22 on TVNZ On Demand. Director Tina Wickliffe says they are super excited to give viewers, “a VIP backstage pass to a beauty pageant like no other”. She says their crew is small and dedicated, and they have worked around the clock to get the job done. It has been a long ride, with principal filming beginning in June 2021, but the reward is a show unlike anything else on local television, she says. “We can’t wait for people to discover this new guilty pleasure and binge the whole series.” Tina says viewers are going to be cheering on the contestants and willing them to succeed. “As a film crew, we became really invested in the journeys of contestants such as Patience Pari who learns a valuable lesson about the vagaries of social media. “One of my faves is the ‘ goth girl’ Amelia Sherman — her journey to beauty queen is one audiences won’t forget in a hurry.” Then there’s the star of the show, pageant director Kharl Wirepa. She says you have to keep the cameras rolling on him at all times because you never know what hilarity or profound wisdom is going to escape his lips. “One of the highlights for me was living in the geothermal city every weekend for the duration of Stiletto Camp. “I love Rotorua, and I can see why the Miss Rotorua Foundation is committed to raising up the women of this city.” She says they made a point to film contestants in famous locations such as Hell’s Gate and Whakarewarewa, and they also wanted to capture that old world Rotorua charm and elegance in a way that personifies the city as a grand old dame. “We’re also counting on the relatable beauty and drama of the Miss Rotorua pageant to bring in viewers from all around the world — we want viewers from Hong Kong tuning in to cheer on Kogi So! “Put a couple of hours aside, and binge-watch Gowns and Geysers, you might end up on a transformational journey yourself.” Producer Ngahuia Wade says they are really excited for the show to launch later this month. Last year’s Covid lockdown added to the work of making the show come together — 13-14 weeks of shooting became 16-18 weeks. She says the editing can take up to 50 hours a week and be up to 12 weeks of work, so it is quite a long process, but they love editing because it is where all the magic comes together. “I think it’s a great show because it’s a real inside look at women of all ages in society and where they are at in their life, how privileged some are and not so privileged others are.” It also shows how women can be helped to feel and look beautiful, she says. She says it is fascinating to watch the transformations and development in a lot of the contestants, both inside and out, and that for some it is the first time seeing themselves as worthy. Ngahuia thinks it is great for Rotorua to see what role the community can play for women in society, as there are a whole lot of women out there who need help. “Some joined to feel better and more confident in themselves. I think that’s great for Rotorua to see.” Ngahuia says the crew has loved this wonderful opportunity to get up close and personal, and thanks the contestants and foundation for trusting the crew with their story and with their journey. Miss Rotorua Foundation director Kharl Wirepa says it is exciting to have the premiere of the show on January 21 here in Rotorua. “There were so many things that happened at this year’s pageant and the television crew from Te Noni Productions will showcase all the trials and tribulations, and the experience that is the Miss Rotorua journey.” He says it will be unique and interesting to watch because a lot of those involved in the production of the show, and all the women in the pageant, are connected to people here in the city. Kharl says Gowns and Geysers is a great opportunity to showcase Rotorua, including its unique cultural aspects, with its multicultural community and commitment to advancing as a bilingual city. “It will show the whanaungatanga and manaakitanga of our community, and how we all work together to create better outcomes for our community.” Shauni James is one of the Miss Rotorua 2021 contestants featured in the television show.