Fashion designer and Miss Rotorua pageant director Kharl WiRepa said he felt let down by one of the pageant contestant’s behaviour.
A tantrum over a tiara left Miss Rotorua Pageant director Kharl WiRepa considering making an assault complaint against one of the participants.
The drama unfolded on stage at the event last Saturday after the tiara and sash for Miss Multi Cultural was awarded to Devki Oza.
Coming second in a field of two then prompted Faustinah Ndlovu to throw her sash in WiRepa’s face and attempt to leave with Oza’s tiara, numerous witnesses told Stuff.
Ndlovu denied any such incident took place.
“She threw her sash in Kharl’s face and the pin caught his eye,” said eyewitness Carrida Blennerhasset.
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“She didn’t hand it back, she threw it in his face.”
Anita Cole, who was crowned Miss Rotorua 2020 on the night, said the sash included a heavy badge.
“So if you get whacked in the face with it, it could do some damage.”
WiRepa, the first Māori designer to have their work included in the prestigious September edition of Vogue magazine, said he believed Ndlovu “decided to assault me with the sash for not coming first place in her category”.
“I was assaulted in front of the audience,” he said.
“I felt very let down, there’s a lot of work we put into these ladies. I was disappointed to see those reactions.”
WiRepa revived the pageant in 2018 with the intention of upping altruism and toning down bikini shoots, telling Stuff at the time the aim was to empower women.
When Stuff asked Ndlovu, who once knitted a three metre, 90kg doll to raise funds for her old school in Zimbabwe, whether she assaulted WiRepa she initially denied any incident had taken place.
“Do you have evidence,” she asked.
At a later meeting she declined to comment further, claiming a confidentiality agreement barred her from speaking out.
She remained adamant, however, that no assault had taken place, even when told Stuff had spoken to five witnesses who all confirmed the sash throwing.
“I’m not prepared to say anything now,” she said.
Emma Makatea, who also saw the events unfold, said she found the incident “quite disturbing”.
“How could this woman do such a thing,” she said.
“This is heart wrenching, despicable behaviour that a woman who speaks of Mana had none whatsoever.”
WiRepa said the event aims to empower and uplift women, and the night raised more than $35,000 for charity, and that he was concerned their kaupapa would have been tarnished by those who witnessed the incident.
In the end however, he said he opted not to bring the matter to police.