Sport | Entertainment

Ngāti Maniapoto premier netball player to represent NZ at international beauty pageant

Briar Kerapa’s dream has been to play for the Silver Ferns as a way to represent Aotearoa on the international stage. But she’s about to fulfill that dream in a different way – competing in an international beauty pageant in Malaysia this month.

Kerapa, of Ngāti Maniapoto, is a premier netball player for the Waitākere City Rugby Netball Club and this year placed in the top five at Miss Auckland before being chosen to compete at Miss Cosmopolitan World (MCW) 2023.

“Representing New Zealand is a really special honour. Everyone wants to represent New Zealand in one way, shape or form whether it be sport or beauty. For me, I am not only going over there to represent our country… I’m representing my culture and my whānau and everyone that has got me to where I am,” Kerapa says.

At Miss Auckland Kerapa, 23, also won Miss Photogenic and People’s Choice. She says the pageant helped her develop her confidence even though she was first scared to enter.

“I found it really scary when I first signed up, going to the first few rehearsals. But once you get into it, that’s when it just becomes more empowering and you just develop more self-growth and personal growth.”

As part of the three-week-long competition in Malaysia contestants will be judged in talent, national costume, evening gown, swimwear, public speaking and interview. They will also travel around the country sightseeing.

“We will go to a lot of the water parks and a lot of the safari parks. It’s a lot of adventuring, so I’m really excited.”

Representing Māori culture with tāmoko, poi and taonga

But Kerapa says the most exciting part about competing internationally is being able to represent her Māori culture.

“I honestly can’t put it into words how exciting it is. I’m excited to embrace and proudly display our Maori heritage overseas.”

Kerapa will perform poi for her talent, wear a poi costume as her national costume and show her tā moko on her left thigh with pride.

“My tā moko represents whanau and iwi. All my koru in my tā moko represent one of my family members and the line work represents my iwi.”

Kerapa also has taonga necklaces to gift to other contestants and has outfits that include Māori culture as part of the designs including her custom-made evening gown and suit by designer Jais Bespoke.

“I’ve got like a little silver fern lapelled into my suit… My evening gown also has some Māori representation on it as well.”

Future career goals

As well as playing premier netball, Kerapa does Crossfit. She says she enjoys sports, especially netball, because of the team environment.

“I’m surrounded by wāhine around me and that’s what I love about netball and that’s what pageantry is all about too – you’re surrounded by amazing wāhine.”

Kerapa is her second year studying for a bachelor of sport and recreation at AUT University of Technology and hopes to become a sports coordinator, director or teacher. She also plans to enter Miss New Zealand in the future.