Beauty queen with a quest for Cam­bo­dia

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

A young beauty queen will be putting her best foot for­ward for char­ity when she struts her stuff at the Miss Uni­verse New Zealand com­pe­ti­tion later this month.

Ayva Hay­den, 23, found her­self sud­denly stuck ear­lier this year when her pageant spon­sors pulled out for fi­nan­cial rea­sons, jeop­ar­dis­ing her en­try into the coun­try’s big­gest beauty com­pe­ti­tion.

The Grey Lynn res­i­dent took mat­ters into her own hands and ral­lied the sup­port of her friends and fam­ily.

She says it was a bit of a last minute panic hav­ing to come up with the cash.

“I was ring­ing every­one, ba­si­cally be­ing told no.”

She even tried auc­tion­ing her­self on TradeMe to at­tract a spon­sor, but ended up with­draw­ing the list­ing.

But with the help of friends and fam­ily she raised the $3375 needed for her en­try and will be rep­re­sent­ing a char­ity called Car­ing for Cam­bo­dia in­stead of a busi­ness spon­sor.

It’s an or­gan­i­sa­tion that’s close to her heart – she plans to go and teach chil­dren in Cam­bo­dia as a vol­un­teer.

Af­ter vis­it­ing Thai­land and South East Asia on a re­cent over­seas trip, she was moved by the poverty she saw.

“You’re in a five-star ho­tel, you look down and see cor­ru­gated iron shacks and peo­ple liv­ing over river beds,” she says.

“Teach­ing there is a life ex­pe­ri­ence I’ve al­ways wanted to have.”

Al­though she qual­ifi in 2007 to en­ter the Miss Uni­verse New Zealand com­pe­ti­tion last year, her over­seas travel meant she had to post­pone un­til this year.

She says she’s looking for­ward to com­pet­ing.

The fi­nal will be held in Levin on April 25 and if Ayva wins, she’ll travel to the Ba­hamas for the Miss Uni­verse com­pe­ti­tion in Au­gust.

She is still rel­a­tively new to the world of beauty con­tests, only en­ter­ing her first one in 2006 af­ter be­ing en­cour­aged by a friend.

And un­like the pageant dra­mas por­trayed on TV, she says it’s a lot of fun and has been a huge con­fi­dence builder.

“If I am able to go out in a bikini in front of all those peo­ple, I can do any­thing.”

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