By Steve Dellar  |  11-27-2017   News
Photo credit: MissNewZealand | Instagram

As my colleague Kyle James reported earlier today, Miss Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa won the title of Miss Universe, marking the first time a woman from her country has won in nearly four decades. Congratulations.

However, in Oceania, all attention went to the New Zealand contestant Miss Harlem-Cruz Atarangi Ihaia who caused a frenzy on social media after showcasing her traditional Māori tā moko on the Miss Universe stage. Though some said there was no place for tattoos on a mostly conservative competition, most commenters were singing her praises for recognizing her Maori heritage.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Proud of our Miss New Zealand 🇳🇿 Harlem Cruz Atarangi Ihaia representing our Maori culture with her stunning &amp; beautiful (Ta Moko Tattoo) <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MissUniverse</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MissNewZealand</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TaMokoTattoo</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; WAXIMUS (@teamwaximus) <a href="">November 27, 2017</a></blockquote>

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The 19-year-old explained earlier on New Zealand TV that she had gotten the tattoo at 16-years-old already: "It represents my ancestors and was created by Charles Paringatai for me to show my sisters, brothers and my parents."

Ihaia didn't make the top 16 but many were still asking whether her tattoo could have hurt her chances of advancing, with one user stating: "Did I see a tattoo on New Zealand's shoulder?? I kinda dig it but doubt the judges do."

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Miss Universe New Zealand mistaken for Netherlands in costume gaffe <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#beauty</a> <a href=""></a> - get quality content from: <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Nina (@Les_Cendres) <a href="">November 27, 2017</a></blockquote>

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There are however no official rules against showcasing a tattoo: "There is nothing in the national or international rules that forbid any contestant from expressing herself through any aspect of her cultural identity."

A Miss Universe spokesperson stated: "Both the national and international rules focus more on the ethical and moral standards of a contestant, and on this note, there is nothing to fault Harlem-Cruz. As she sets off to Miss Universe to compete for Aotearoa, she can do so knowing that her Maori culture will be appreciated."


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5 Comment/s

Anonymous No. 12774 1511792398

Euhhhh, no, I don't think so.

Anonymous No. 12778 1511794476

i dig her tats!

Anonymous No. 12786 1511802042

Shoulder art kinda tasteful being traditional, but the face art ruined it.

Anonymous No. 12788 1511802518

Ok, I'll say it… I'm not a big fan of tattoos, BUT if you're going to get face art AT LEAST have the courtesy to be Maori!

Even it being traditional, not a huge fan, but dang, that Polynesian is kind of pretty…

Alissa No. 12902 1511897318

Ashamed to be a New Zealander this year watching her at Miss Universe. Harlem-Cruz Ihaia is probably the lowest of the low in terms of candidates. NZ really scraped the barrel with this one. The girl has NOTHING good going for her except for the fact she is Maori - and she sounded like a broken record harping on. Be proud of your culture but have something.. ANYTHING else to bring to the table. Did you hear her speak? It was appalling.

And the tattoo is just tacky. NZ judges must have been drunk. Worst Miss Universe New Zealand in HISTORY. We should really just scrap it all together if these are the kinds of girls we are sending.

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