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Māori TV's Jess Tyson named as Celebrity Treasure Island contestant

Celebrity Treasure Island is back with the first six of 21 contestants named today.

Te Ao Māori News reporter Jess Tyson is one of them, and she'll be going up against the likes of rugby legend Sir Wayne 'Buck' Shelford, comedian Joe Daymond and Shortland Street actress Angela Bloomfield.

As a former Miss World New Zealand, Tyson is no stranger to competition, and the stakes are high as she makes the most of this opportunity to raise awareness for her own charity.

"I am the founder of the charity called Brave and what we do is support rangatahi and other New Zealanders affected by sexual harm," she says.

After founding Brave in 2018, Tyson has travelled to different schools and community groups around Aotearoa to share her story about overcoming being a victim of child sexual abuse while educating rangatahi about healthy relationships.

"Having the opportunity to go on national television in Celebrity Treasure Island and talk about a kaupapa that's so important to me and, actually, so important to so many New Zealanders is such a great opportunity."

'More than looks'

On the show the cast will be divided into three teams before going head to head for the chance to win the $100,000 prize money for their chosen charity.

“We also took part in weekly charity challenges to try to win $5,000 to go towards our charity per challenge. The challenges were hilarious and I can’t wait to watch them.”

She says one of her goals in the show is to prove beauty queens are “more than just looks”.

“We’re really smart. We’re really hard-working, really fit, and really intelligent. Of course, I also wanted to be a role model for other wāhine who are watching because how good is it to see other wāhine Māori doing good things out there.”

She says the most challenging part of the show was the mental challenge.

“The physical part was fine," she says.

“But when it came pushing through those mental barriers, because I’m quite introverted and I like being alone, so being in a group of people for so long and then having to push yourself to keep going was quite challenging.”

Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions the show was not filmed on an island and was instead filmed in the Far North.

“I can’t tell you too much about the location but it was absolutely stunning. The beach was beautiful. We were looked after by the iwi up there, Ngāti Kuri, and they were awesome. They gave us kaimoana. There were dolphins most mornings and sunsets, so everything that I love,"  Tyson says.

“We had a pōwhiri as well with fry bread, the best fry bread ever. So he mihi nui ki a koutou."

Also announced as contestants today were comedian and actor Chris Parker and More FM radio host Lana Searle. Further celebrities will be announced on Wednesday and the show is expected to air in September.